LIVES could be saved by the opening of a new 24-hour mental health rehabilitation unit, according to the organisation behind the planned development.

Bolton-based ASC Healthcare want to turn vacant solicitors’ office Oakfield House in Preston New Road, Blackburn, into an acute crisis unit for mental health patients.

The new until will have 30 beds and open seven days a week and will offer rehabilitation services to men and women suffering from mental health problems including depression and anxiety.

Plans for the new unit have attracted opposition, with a petition against the development garnering more than 100 signatures.

Residents have raised concerns about parking problems that could stem from the development and are worried about the 24-hour use.

But Yael Eardley, head of contracts and compliance at ASC Healthcare, said the service would be vital for the community and in taking pressure off mental health services.

She said: “Our aim is to offer a service that is bespoke and person-centred for individuals who require emergency crisis admission due to their mental health.

“I think this unit would be vital for the community and could be lifesaving for people who are struggling and take pressure off mental health services.”

There would also be 22 car parking spaces available as part of the development.

Nixon Amuntung, CEO of ASC Healthcare, added: “The service is not for people awaiting treatment for drugs and alcohol, or who have learning disabilities, or who are criminals or who are at serious risk of self-harm.

“Nor is it supported living or bedsits, but rather it is for people with common mental health problems going through crisis who need to recover.

“We don’t envisage they’d be there for more than a few days.”

The plans, which have also seen hundreds of people voice their support, have been recommended for refusal by Blackburn with Darwen Council planners.

They will meet on Thursday to decide on the plans.