Burnley hotel to be converted into home for children with mental health problems?

CLOSING: The Alexander Hotel. A180709/5
CLOSING: The Alexander Hotel. A180709/5

BURNLEY residents are campaigning against plans to convert a once-thriving landmark hotel into a home for children with mental health issues.

Dr Saleem Khan, from Cheshire, and his wife have applied to Burnley Council to transform the Alexander Hotel (right), in Leven Street, as part of a £450,000 scheme.

But residents living in the area have expressed concern, saying those living closest to the development have not been properly consulted, the plans are vague and they have not been provided with full details of the proposed scheme.

Around 130 people turned out to a public meeting about the proposals at the Terracefields Community Centre with ward councillors Jeff Sumner and Karen Heseltine.

If approved, Dr Khan said the home would house seven “mentally challenged” young people between the ages of 10 and 16 and employ three full-time staff with between 10 and 15 part-time nurses, carers and managers.

He said he wants the home to serve as a rehabilitation centre to help reintegrate vulnerable youngsters with conditions such as ADHD, autism or mild depression back into society and prevent them from becoming institutionalised when they are older.

Dr Khan, who lives in Hale and has a business called Nestling Care Ltd, said the centre would be staffed 24 hours a day and would employ a specialist team of child psychiatrists and social psychologists.

“Because these children are so vulnerable, they will be supervised 24/7, even if they go out shopping.

“The whole idea is to make these children more confident, show them how to do their own things and how to integrate into society and then in two, six or eight months’ time they can cope by themselves. These are not children with behavioural problems or drug and alcohol problems, they are children we need to protect. These young people often get lost in the system as there aren’t facilities to help them with rehabilitation.”

Dr Khan said there would be a strict admissions policy in place and any young people with drug or alcohol issues would not be accepted onto the programme.

Coun. Sumner said: “We don’t think this scheme is suitable for this residential area, there are plenty of other areas in Burnley where this could work.

“We’re not objecting to looking after children with these conditions but we don’t think it’s suitable for that area.

“We are asking Mr Khan to come to another meeting and ask him to put his cards on the table and tell us what it’s all about. Residents might accept it if they know more about it but the plans are very vague.”

The Alexander Hotel was forced to close in 2009 after it went into liquidation. It was later bought by Burnley-based McKenzie Property and Leisure Ltd who re-opened it as a hotel and American-style diner called Funky Jacks.

The consultation period for the plans will end on January 27th.