UPDATED: Neighbours left 'dispirited' by secure hospital's expansion bid
PLANS to extend a secure hospital for mental health patients have been submitted to Derby City Council, to the concern of people living nearby.
Six extra patients could be cared for at Cygnet Hospital, in City Gate, off London Road, if the proposals are given the go-ahead.
The hospital is a secure unit, which means patients are only allowed out with permission.
The site sparked controversy in 2009, when building work began on its creation without proper public consultation from Derby City Council.
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Under the latest plans, the first-floor extension is described as "infill", meaning the building would not increase in height or take up any more land.
Four more bedrooms and two bedsits would be added, and another car parking space would be created.
In its application to the city council, Cygnet Health Care Ltd says the plans would ensure residents could be placed in the "least restrictive environment most suitable to their needs as their health improves".
It also said the development would not affect the overall use of the site or "intensify the existing operation".
But Madeline Hackett, 68, of nearby Ellesmere Avenue, said she and her neighbours were "dispirited" by the news of the planned development. She lodged a complaint with the Government about the planning process behind the hospital during the original controversy.
Ms Hackett said: "I heard about it when a letter was pushed through my door. Speaking to the immediate neighbours, we're very demoralised about it – but we feel there's nothing we can do about it.
"We couldn't stop it being built before and we knew this was going to happen, so there doesn't seem much point in registering a complaint now.
"We didn't feel this was a suitable site for patients to recover in when it was first built and that's still the case. But we rehearsed all these arguments before, so what chance do we have of making changes now?"
At the moment, the hospital provides accommodation for 46 patients.
In April 2011, it opened to women for the first time – with the hospital manager explaining there were many Derbyshire women being treated outside the county because there were no hospital beds available for them.
Last April, the hospital received the national Investors in People Award for the way its staff are managed.
A spokesperson for Cygnet Hospital Derby said today:
“We are planning on extending the support we can offer people at Cygnet Hospital Derby, by creating four bedrooms and two apartments. We will be doing this by relocating an administration office, minimising inconvenience for local people.
“Cygnet Hospital Derby provides critical support for those requiring rehabilitation. We are proud of the work we do and have recently been shortlisted for two awards. There is currently a waiting list for our services, and we hope to be able to support more service users’ recoveries, particularly those whose families are in the Derby area.
“We take any concerns in the community very seriously, which is why we have written to members of the community and councillors, we believe it is vital that all people involved are kept up to date.
“We will work hard to minimise any potential disruptions to the community and we are looking forward to being able to support our service whilst creating new jobs in Derby.”