A MENTAL health unit that houses murderers, rapists and paedophiles is set to significantly expand, the Citizen can reveal.
Residents in the retirement community surrounding Chadwick Lodge are already protesting furiously about plans to extend the facility by up to 36 beds..
They say the medium risk secure unit already causes noise and parking problems that shatter the peace of their tiny Eaglestone West community.
But the Priory Group, owners of Chadwick Lodge and neighbouring low security Eaglestone View, insist the extension may never happen.
“We are in the process of submitting a planning application for a new extension to provide 36 more beds. But it is to protect out position should we need more space in the future,” said a spokesman.
“If we get a big contract and need more space then we will start building. But at the moment we have no plans to begin.”
Chadwick Lodge currently has space for 52 patients, both male and female. All are detained under the Mental Health Act and many through the courts after criminal trials. Eaglestone View houses 42 people who are deemed to be less of a serious risk.
The proposed extension would serve both units.
Said one nearby resident: “Everyone knows there are rapists, paedophiles and murders in Chadwick Lodge. It can be scary but over the years we have come to accept that.
“What worries us is the noise and the disruption to our lives in being hemmed on by such a place. The last thing we want is for it to get any bigger.”
The news comes hot on the heels of Chadwick Lodge hitting the headlines over a patient’s legal challenge about smoking.
The unnamed patients, who is known just by his initials even to lawyers, won the right to launch a High Court judicial review after he was banned from smoking in the garden.
Chadwick director Paul O’Connor banned smoking as part of a initiative to promote healthy living.
Lawyers say the case raises crucial issues under the Equality Act and also the autonomy of compulsorily held mental patients.
Said a neighbour: “We’ re quite pleased about the smoking case, as currently the patients sit outside the front of the Lodge, next to a public road, when they want a smoke. It would be safer if they smoked in their private garden.
Chadwick Lodge has also hit national headlines after patients have escaped. Most famous was attempted murderer Mark Mawson, who absconded in 2007. He was nicknamed The Vampire because he drank his victim’s blood.