Belfast Telegraph

Concerns over new mental health centre in East belfast

By Rebecca Petticrew

A Lcommunity association has hit out at "inadequate" information about a proposed new mental health facility in east Belfast.

Triangle Housing Association is proposing to build 11 self-contained one-bedroom apartments for people who "experience mental health difficulties" on the site of a former clinic and library at 16 Glen Road, the Braniel.

As part of the consultation process, Triangle has scheduled a public meeting for July 2 in order to explain plans to local residents and answer any queries they may have.

Braniel Community Association treasurer Ian Shanks said locals feel Triangle is not making its plans known widely enough and has not given sufficient notice of the meeting.

"They sent a letter out to the 50 houses right beside the proposed site, but people in the next street have told me they know nothing about it," Mr Shanks said.

"They are putting a notice about the public meeting in this week's Community Telegraph, but that isn't giving people enough notice, it's inadequate."

Explaining that there is some concern among local residents about what the scheme will mean for the area, Mr Shanks said: "Some people are worried about the effect on the value of their homes.

"They're also unsure about how unwell people who are living there will be, especially as there are three schools close to the site."

Braniel Community Association printed an additional 1,000 copies of the letter sent out by Triangle, which explains the proposal and gives details of a public meeting, in a bid to encourage "as many people as possible" to attend the meeting. "We want to get as many answers as possible," Mr Shanks added.

Aidan McGeown, Triangle's housing development manager, said Triangle is keen to ensure everyone understands and is able to comment on the proposals.

"This is evident from the fact that we spoke to the officers of the community association at the earliest stage and have kept them informed of each stage in the consultation process."

He said that the consultation process "goes well beyond" statutory requirements and countered claims that the proposals and public meeting details have not been widely publicised.

"We adopted many of the suggestions made by the community association, including the policy of not only writing directly to homes near the proposed site but also placing a notice in the Community Telegraph – which reaches over 30,000 homes in East Belfast," he said.

Saying the housing would be a "useful contribution" to the Northern Ireland Executive's care in the community policy, Mr McGeown aimed to reassure local residents about the suitability of potential tenants.

"They have been assessed by health professionals as being suitable for living in the community and will, of course, continue to have access to community-based services."

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