MENTAL health charity Scope has started its formal consultation about the future of the Douglas Arter Centre in Salisbury.

The charity plans to close the centre, which is home to nine severely disabled adults.

The idea has been met with outrage by residents’ families and former staff, who launched a campaign to save it.

But Scope is pressing ahead with its consultation, which is running until the end of August.

A spokesman for the charity said: “Last year we made residents, families and staff aware of our proposal to close the residential service at the Douglas Arter Centre.

“Since then we have been talking and listening to people who live there, their families and advocates. We will now begin formally consulting with everyone affected.

“Scope reviewed all of its care homes last year to see which ones need to change.

“We are proposing to close the residential service at the Douglas Arter Centre, because we don’t believe the care home is good enough for disabled people in 2014.

“It’s an old fashioned 1970s care home where it’s really difficult for residents to have privacy.

“Its location makes it very difficult for residents to be part of the local community.

“We understand that the proposal has caused a lot of anxiety for residents and their families.

“We are committed to talking to residents and families, and have been doing so since October last year, so that they have the opportunity to share their views.”

But those fighting the closure say that many of the residents are settled and happy at the Douglas Arter Centre and will not want to move. They are concerned there are no alternative homes nearby.

Many of the residents are not able to speak and their families say moving towards more “independent living” will cause them additional distress.

At its last Care Quality Commission inspection the Douglas Arter Centre passed with flying colours and staff were praised for the high quality of care they provide.

About 39 jobs will be lost if the residential side of the centre shuts next year.

The neighbouring day centre is not expected to be affected.

The Douglas Arter Centre was funded by local people who raised £500,000.

Campaigner Merrin Holroyd, who is opposing the closure, has written to the chairman of Scope’s trustees Alice Maynard urging the charity to reconsider.

“The Douglas Arter Centre houses nine people with multiple disabilities and multiple needs. It is not old-fashioned – although bits of it do need upgrading,” she wrote.

“It is not isolated – it is situated on land owned by Salisbury District Hospital next door and is on a direct bus route to the town centre.

“What right do you, the other trustees and the chief executive have in ordering the closure of this residential home? “My understanding is that not a penny was given by Scope – and if it was, it was money given to Scope by generous donors. Have you consulted anyone other than yourselves?”