DC Casebook: Community Facilities - Secure home backed despite local fears

A low-security unit to accommodate people with learning disabilities at a healthcare facility in Essex has won support from an inspector, despite a large number of objections from local residents.

The scheme aimed to provide residential accommodation for men and women with a range of learning disorders and equip them for independent life. It would be registered with the Healthcare Commission and could not be used as a medium or high-security unit without being reregistered as such. Despite initially agreeing that the use was akin to a nursing home or hospital, the council likened it to a young offenders' institution or detention centre because of the security arrangements.

The inspector noted that the site already had permission for 20 recuperation apartments, a seclusion unit and a pre-diagnosis centre that could house up to 45 people with learning difficulties. In his view, the council had agreed that extended healthcare facilities on-site would in principle be acceptable. Improved accommodation was worthy of support and there was little evidence to suggest that local residents would be at risk, he held.

DCS Number 100-058-187

Inspector Richard Hollox; Written representations.

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