Secure unit rethink too late for Kewstoke

PUBLISHED: 07:10 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 09:21 24 May 2010

PLANS to open secure mental hospitals like the one being built in Kewstoke could be subject to rigorous new planning laws according to Weston's MP John Penrose. Mr Penrose highlighted a loophole in the law after news that the former convalescent home in B

PLANS to open secure mental hospitals like the one being built in Kewstoke could be subject to rigorous new planning laws according to Weston's MP John Penrose.Mr Penrose highlighted a loophole in the law after news that the former convalescent home in Beach Road will open as a psychiatric hospital later this year.Residents were upset because no planning permission was needed to change the building's use from a care home into a secure hospital.Mr Penrose raised the issue in parliament during questions to Yvette Cooper, the minister for housing and planning.He asked if the Government "would change the terms of C2 planning consent so drug rehabilitation centres and secure mental institutions are not included in the same class of developments as retirement and convalescent homes."The minister has now confirmed the Government is looking into introducing a new class C2a for secure buildings like hospitals.Mr Penrose said: "I am pleased the current loophole on secure units is being closed."This is a positive step forward, although I am afraid the decision to introduce this new category will not be retrospective, so the Kewstoke re-development will continue."I was asked by Kewstoke residents to get involved and see what I could do to help. "I'm pleased that in future any similar proposals, either here in North Somerset or across the country, will have to go through a formal planning process. "This will allow proper and detailed consideration of the merits of each application and ensure local people and councillors have a genuine opportunity to make their case.

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