NHS chiefs are to launch formal plans for a new 72-bed mental health unit for East Lancashire patients.

In April, the Lancashire Telegraph revealed the county’s mental health trust was interested in a 10-acre site next to the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has now announced details of two events for the public to see the plans. The trust has also asked Blackburn with Darwen Council about an environ-mental impact assessment.

The proposal for the land between Shadsworth Road and Haslingden Road, once earmarked for a £25million science park, is part of a long-term plan to concentrate specialist mental health services on four major sites in Lancashire, instead of the current eight, enabling more cash to be spent on treating people with less serious problems in the community or at home.

Inpatient care will no longer be offered at Burnley General Hospital, with two ward closures already confirmed, while Chorley and South Ribble Hospital is also likely to lose its mental health beds. The current wards at the Royal Blackburn would also go.

The three other new facilities will be in Lancaster, which has just been completed, Blackpool, due to open next year, and a yet-to-be-confirmed site in Central Lancashire. The overall plan is expected to save £12million.

Alistair Rose, project director at Lancashire Care, shopes the Blackburn unit will become operational in 2016/17, adding: “This will be a purpose-built facility providing state-of-the art and private facilities for service users.”

To find out more, go to Audley and Queen’s Park Neighbourhood Learning Centre in Pringle Street, Blackburn from 4pm to 7pm on Thursday, August 21 and Tuesday, September 9, Also see www.lancashirecare .nhs.uk/NewInpatientUnits