• Gail Collins

Good News for the NHS!

We are delighted to have obtained planning permission for the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for the use of the upper floors of a listed building in the centre of Newcastle Under Lyme for consulting rooms and offices in connection with their Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

Lancaster Building is a complex of inter-war shops and offices and Grade II listed. The building retains a large quantity of original features, particularly to the ground floor shop fronts. The building is situated within the Newcastle-under-Lyme Town Centre Conservation Area.

It is proposed to provide 67 office desks on the first floor and 51 office desk positions on the second floor with 12 interview rooms for visiting clients. The facility will allow the Trust to continue to provide mental-health services in the area. The IAPT service offers one to one counselling sessions. Psychological therapies are commonly known as ‘talking therapies’ or ‘talking treatments’, which can benefit most people. They provide treatment for people with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. They can be stand alone or be used alongside prescribed medicine.

In supporting the proposal, we successfully argued that the proposal to convert the first and second floor of Lancaster Building would not conflict with the Primary Shopping Area objectives of retaining active ground floor frontages and predominantly retail premises. No external alterations are proposed to the building which ensures that the building’s visual integrity and contribution to the Town Centre Conservation Area and street scene are preserved and protected.

The proposal would be in-line with the mixed-use objectives of local and national policies and in line with the national objective for planning to promote social inclusion and have community facilities in accessible locations to promote healthy and sustainable communities.

In addition to the clear public benefit of the continued mental health services in the area, the proposed use has the added public benefit of being an appropriate and viable re-use of the first and second floors of the listed building in a conservation area, compatible with the building’s character and having no adverse impact on the fabric of the Listed Building or the character or appearance of the Conservation Area.