Historians call for archaeological dig at proposed hospital site


Plans for new mental health facility face delay

Plans for a new mental health facility in Northern Ireland could be delayed after historians called for archaeological investigation of the ancient site.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s Historic Monuments Unit (HMU) has expressed concerns over Western Trust’s plans to build a £3.5m psychiatric unit in Omagh.

The unit, which protects historic sites around the North, has said the proposed 18-bed recovery and rehabilitation unit at Cranny Close, off the Drumnakilly Road, is located immediately south of a protected archaeological site.

The site features a rath - a type of defensive farmstead that dates back to the early Christian period (400-1100 AD). The rath is protected under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995.

In a letter to planners, historians said they needed additional information from the developer ‘to permit an informed and reasonable planning decision to be taken’.

It stated: “An archaeological evaluation is requested as per Policy BH 3 of PPS 6. If this additional information is not submitted as requested the proposal could prove contrary to policy.”

If given the go-ahead, the new unit - the first of its kind in Northern Ireland – will provide support for people who have difficulty sustaining community placements due to severe and enduring mental illness and related difficulties.

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Included are six intensive support and rehabilitation beds and 12 self-contained flats, which will provide a transition for patients who require higher levels of support outside of the care system as they progress along their road to recovery and independence.