Village concern at rehabilitation centre proposal

Foreside, from Higherford Bridge (s)
Foreside, from Higherford Bridge (s)

Villagers have expressed concern at the proposal to turn a former care home into a drug and rehabilitation unit.

Approximately 70 residents in Higherford aired their views at a public meeting regarding the future of Brookdell, Foreside, which is now unoccupied.

Brookdell was opened as a care home in 1987 but the planning permission granted at the time has a condition on it stating that it should not be used as anything other than a residential care home.

Applicant Holgate House Ltd is seeking to convert the care home and the adjacent Foreside Cottage into the drug and rehabilitation centre for an estimated 19 clients.

The unit is based in Holgate House in Mill Lane, Gisburn, at present where it currently runs a similar unit caring for up to 22 clients. However, the lease on the building is set to expire, and the owners do not wish to renew the lease, according to the applicant.

Supporting planning documentation states that the unit has successfully operated in Gisburn since 1998 without any difficulties and has a good relationship with the community in which it is set.

It provides a “valuable service to the community” and the centre would be staffed 24 hours a day, providing “an abstinence based programme where a professional team provide support, structure and discipline in a caring nurturing way”.

The anticipated 19 clients, likely to be referred from the NHS, would be supported by six full and part-time staff.

However, residents in close proximity to Brookdell, remain uneasy about the proposal.

John Webster, who gave a detailed presentation to the public meeting, said: “I explained the proposal and went through the objections to it, which included likely traffic generation, changing the character of the Conservation Area and the inevitable disturbance and complete lack of privacy for those residents living in close proximity to Brookdell.

“In response, many residents expressed various concerns about the proposal in this particular location.

“Although there was support for the work of the unit, Brookdell, Foreside was not considered to be an appropriate location.

“At the conclusion of the meeting residents were encouraged to make their views known to Pendle Council’s Planning and Building Control Department by the deadline of November 16th.”

Hugh Simpson, Chairman of the Higherford Residents’ Action Group, said: “We discussed various ways to ensure all residents were aware of the planning application so that they could participate in the consultation process.

“I hope residents take the opportunity to express their concerns and their fears as it will be too late if the planning application is subsequently approved.”

Those wanting advice on expressing their views can contact higherford@hotmail.co.uk