THE future of a planned £20m mental health unit in the North-East will be discussed at a meeting next week.

The Private Finance Initiative-funded hospital, in Darlington, will replace facilities at the Pierremont Unit, at Darlington Memorial Hospital, the Beaumont ward, the Faverdale Day Unit, both in Darlington, and the Gables unit at Sedgefield.

Part of the new West Park development, near Faverdale, has been identified for the site, which has already been granted outline planning permission by the council.

Planning officers at Darlington Borough Council have recommended that the scheme is given full planning permission, and councillors will meet next week to decide.

The hospital will provide:

* 60 adult acute in-patient rooms, including mother-and- baby rooms;

* 24 single rooms for older people with mental health problems;

* 15 complex needs rooms;

* Ten intensive care rooms;

* Seven recovery rooms.

There will also be out-patient and day hospital facilities, and a range of support services, including a dining room, coffee lounge, prayer room and a shop.

The six single-storey buildings will be grouped around a central courtyard.

The council's planning committee will decide whether to grant permission on Wednesday.