Fears pub will be ‘halfway house’ for people with mental health issues

Residents gather to protest at the The Waggon and Horses pub in Bent Lane, Leyland
Residents gather to protest at the The Waggon and Horses pub in Bent Lane, Leyland

Fears have emerged that a closed-down Leyland pub will become a halfway house for people recently released from prison.

As previously reported in the Guardian, plans have been submitted to transform the Waggon and Horses on Bent Lane into flats. Initial proposals said the accommodation would be for adults with disabilities and learning difficulties, but, it has now been confirmed that the flats will house adults with ‘mental health problems.’

People living near the pub are now concerned that could mean sex offenders, paedophiles and drug addicts moving into the area, and have vowed to fight the proposals.

However, service providers Next Stage say tenants would be vulnerable not anti-social.

A letter sent with the planning documents to South Ribble Council reads: “This proposal is to cater for adults requiring ‘low profile’ mental health care in the community, and will provide residential supported living for those adults with mental health problems who cannot sustain a tenancy without support.”

Resident Trevor Williams said: “There is one hell of an opposition locally to this scheme.

“The concern is the bit about people not being able to integrate into society without support. People are really up in arms.

“We’re worried it could mean people who have just been released from jail, and we certainly don’t want that on our doorstep.”

Councillors in the area organised a meeting between residents and the applicant, Next Stage Ltd, which around 70 people attended.

“That did help, to hear the proposals straight from the horse’s mouth,” Mr Williams added.

“But there was such a wide range of issues that the ‘mental health’ category could come under, from depression to alcohol or drug dependency, that the answers weren’t as specific as we would have liked.

“They didn’t tell us exactly who would be living there, so we will be speaking out against this at the planning meeting.”

Paul O’Rourke, from Next Stage, told the Guardian: “In real terms, these people already live in the community, but it’s a challenge for them without having support.

“We support people to maintain their tenancies if they struggle with things like cleaning and cooking. They’re not anti-social or aggressive, they’re just vulnerable.”

He added: “We’ve got similar accommodation in Wigan and we haven’t had any concerns from people there.

“We just put plans forward for flats there and nobody knew any different.

“We could have done the same in Leyland, but we wanted to be open and honest about the plans.”