What is proposed?

CAMHS PICU - A vital new ward for Dorset’s young people

We plan create a brand new inpatient intensive care unit at our Alumhurst Road site. This will be for children and young people in mental health crisis. This means:

  • improved emergency support and standards of care for children and young people
  • younger patients can access the specialist care they need
  • the latest facilities will improve recovery times
  • treatment will be close to friends and family, with space for families to stay if needed
  • fewer distressing out-of-area placements, which separates children and young people from their loved ones, hampering their chances of recovery.

The facility is known as a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU), and it will be accessed through the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

PICU internal view.png


The proposed design

The proposed building will maintain privacy for neighbouring residents and for patients, due to its location in the eastern part of the site. This will minimise disturbance to neighbours, whilst ensuring high-quality amenity space for residents and staff.

The building will have limited visual impact when viewed from Alum Chine.

The proposed building will be of high-quality contemporary design, using materials reflective of those already on the site and nestling the building into the wooded setting.

PICU Chine View 1.png

Changes since the 2018 application

We’ve listened to the feedback received at the time of the 2018 planning application refusal. We’ve redesigned the scheme, engaging with BCP Council’s planning, highways, trees and heritage professionals.

This has influenced the new design and led to the proposals put forward today. The design:

  • has been relocated. It is now at the eastern end of the site
  • works with the natural lie of the land meaning it is is lower in height - just a single storey when viewed from the site
  • is further away from the listed buildings to minimise impact
  • will retain more trees
  • provides adequate parking for the whole site
  • uses appropriate materials to reflect the listed buildings on site.

PICU sitemap.png


The wider site is home to the Grade II Listed Building Nightingale House, dating from 1867 and a listed Gatehouse constructed in 1850 as a convalescent home, which today provide a range of mental health services.

The proposed building is designed to be sensitive to this important location and will enhance the setting of the listed building by:

  • relocating parking to dedicated spaces away from the listed buildings
  • improving landscaping
  • its location relation to the listed buildings
  • limiting the new building to a single storey when viewed from the hospital
  • using high-quality, contemporary design appropriate to the site
  • retaining more trees than in previous schemes
  • adding sympathetic landscaping.

PICU heritage.png


Travel facilities

The plans create dedicated parking accessed near the entrance to the site, reducing traffic through and around the site and moving parking away from the listed building.

The new parking will use soft materials rather than tarmac to blend in with the setting. Tree roots will be protected. 

Facilities will be in line with BCP Council’s Parking Standards and Dorset HealthCare’s Green Travel Plan. As well as better defined parking area, there will be:

  • electric vehicle charging
  • cycle storage
  • improved pedestrian access.

Ecology and trees

The wooded setting provides a lovely environment for patients and is important context for the listed building. There has been a significant reduction in the proposed number of trees to be removed and more will be planted to offset the losses. Biodiversity enhancements will include:

  • wildlife friendly landscaping scheme
  • plants that provide nectar or fruit and a broad range or colour, texture and smell.
  • bird and bat boxes.

The development will meet BREEAM Excellent standards. BREEAM is the international method for assessing the sustainability of buildings, and considers things such as materials, renewable energy provision and transport.

Entrance view 2 PICU_Chine_view_2.JPG CAMHS Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit