This study aimed to inform the development of a new, recovery-oriented rehabilitation service, identify local needs and create a pathway for appropriate referrals, accelerating the build up of case-load. 1353 secondary service users subject to Care Programme Approach under four local community teams, an assertive outreach team and an early interventions service were surveyed using a purpose-made needs assessment and case identification questionnaire. Significant unmet need for rehabilitation and recovery-oriented interventions was found. The results were used to invite referrals, create a case-load of 150 and allocate the appropriate resources for the new team. The results highlight the untapped recovery potential among users of mainstream secondary mental health services and support investment in rehabilitation at a time of resource restriction. This work also supports a similar, evidence-based approach to targeting appropriate referrals during the development and the early stages of rehabilitation services.