Plans to convert a former police station in Barnstaple into a mental health outpatient treatment centre have been approved.

Devon and Cornwall Police had occupied the site in Youings Drive since 1982, but vacated the site last year when they chose not to renew the lease.

North Devon Council planners under delegated planners have approved the plans of the Devon Partnership NHS Trust to change the use of the former Pilton police station to a health service.

A statement with the application had said: "The North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust will use the site for mental health outpatient treatment for adults and children.

"The proposed use will provide employment for up to 45 full time equivalent roles and the proposal provides a suitable change of use to complement the nearby North Devon District Hospital and supplement the facilities on offer by accommodating mental health service provision.

"The proposed change of use is deemed suitable as enables the re-use of an existing building for the purposes of a mental health surgery.

"This would complement the nearby health services provided by North Devon District Hospital, which is easily accessible on foot and public transport.

"The proposal would also provide a viable use without resorting to demolition of the existing building or trying to find a suitable alternative site and constructing a new building.

"Mental health is currently at the forefront of many political and social debates and there is an increasing recognition that more needs to be done by the government to increase access to mental health care.

"The proposed change of use will be of significant benefit to the North Devon hospital and the local community.

"The site is located within the development area of the town; will continue to provide employment opportunities and has excellent links to the main hospital site, which is less than half a mile away."

The statement adds that the site will be used for mental outpatient treatment for adults and children, running from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Friday and 8am to 5pm on a Saturday.

Approving the scheme, council planners said the proposal is considered to accord with the Development Plan.