New learning disability unit in Preston plans to 'use green space as therapy' for its patients

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A specialist unit for people with acute learning disabilities has moved a step closer to being built in rural Preston after planning officials recommended councillors give it the go-ahead.

The 14-bed Water Meadow View inpatient facility is proposed for a plot of land next to the existing Guild Park mental health development in Whittingham.

The Lancashire Post understands it would be designed to serve the needs of those individuals with a learning disability who cannot access generic mental health inpatient support – even after reasonable adjustments have been made for them – within the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS area.

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The new unit, off Cumeragh Lane, would be different to other inpatient services by using green space as a therapeutic tool to assist the people staying there. It would be dedicated solely to those with complex and specific learning disability needs.

How Water Meadow View would look (images:  Gilling Dodd Architects, via Preston City Council planning portal)How Water Meadow View would look (images:  Gilling Dodd Architects, via Preston City Council planning portal)
How Water Meadow View would look (images: Gilling Dodd Architects, via Preston City Council planning portal)

Preston City Council’s planning committee will be advised to approve Water Meadow View when it meets to consider an application by Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust later this month.

If councillors agree, it is estimated that 107 full-time-equivalent staff will be employed there, although a maximum of 33 would be on-site at any one time.

The proposed unit would be a part single and part two-storey development, split into two ward zones and featuring eight standard en-suite bedrooms, two specially accessible en-suite bedrooms, two studio flats and one accessible studio flat.

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The proposals include the planting of 60 new trees, along with smaller shrubs, as well as wildflower grass and wetland planting. The building itself would be positioned so as to minimise the impact on existing trees, a report to be presented to the planning committee states.

The site was previously occupied by Frank Gardham House sanitorium, which closed down in 2010 and was demolished four years later.

It lies immediately to the south of Guild Park, a suite of low and medium-secure forensic inpatient facilities, which include Guild Lodge. The latter opened in July 1999 and has a total of 54 male and female beds.

That development followed the closure of Whittingham Hospital in 1995, with much of that broader site now being redeveloped with the construction of around 1,000 new homes.