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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Planning approval granted for new £143M centre for mental health in Antrim

new centre for mental health at Antrim Area Hospital

A £143 million project to build a new centre for mental health at Antrim Area Hospital has taken a step closer, with planning approval for the scheme now granted.

Councillors at Antrim and on Newtownabbey Borough Council approved the Northern Health and Social Care Trust’s planning application at its Planning Committee meeting on Monday 17 June.

Birch Hill Centre for Mental Health will be built on Bush Road, on lands to the south of Antrim Area Hospital. It is expected to be complete by late 2028.

The new development will centralise the Northern Trust’s inpatient mental health services in modern, purpose-built accommodation, replacing the current provision at Holywell Hospital and the Ross Thomson Unit at Causeway Hospital.

Dr Petra Corr, Northern Trust Divisional Director of Mental Health, Learning Disability and Community Wellbeing Services, said:

“We are delighted that we have reached another milestone on this journey to deliver modern mental health services for our local community.

“Within the Northern Trust area and across Northern Ireland, providing high quality mental health care is a pressing necessity. Our proposals for a new centre for mental health at Antrim will see the Northern Trust’s enormous expertise concentrated in state-of-the-art, purpose-built surroundings, providing the best possible environment for assessment, treatment and recovery.”

The new facilities will provide 134 single-occupancy ground-floor ensuite rooms for patients, giving direct access to safe outdoor space and facilitating ease of movement between departments. Links to nature and views towards the neighbouring countryside have been prioritised, to ensure the best possible environment to support recovery.

The building design also prioritises sustainable design principles to ensure the building’s performance is more energy efficient. It will also help to reduce operating costs, supporting net carbon zero targets.

Dr Corr added:

“Co-production has been integral to how we’ve developed our plans for Birch Hill; we wanted to ensure that we had input from those who have lived experience of accessing mental health services.

“Staff have worked very closely with our service users throughout the entire design process. Listening to our service users and carers has been vital as they are best placed to advise on what support and services will make a positive difference to their lives.

“Improving the experience and outcomes for our patients and service users is at the heart of the centre’s design, and this will be a fantastic new facility allowing us to provide the highest standards of compassionate care with our community, in our community.”

More information about the project, including a list of FAQs, is available on the consultation website


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