Safeguarding concerns raised over hotel which could become rehab centre
- Credit: Archant
Safeguarding concerns surrounding a hotel and pub's potential change into a rehabilitation centre for addicts have been raised by residents.
The Hare and Barrel on Brandon Road in Watton could become a centre for those recovering from addictions such as sex addiction, drug, alcohol and other mental health problems.
An application to allow this change of use has been submitted to Breckland District Council and was debated at Watton Town Council on Tuesday, January 8.
Residents close to the property raised their concerns about the safety of their children, the impact on house prices, and the loss of a community asset.
Amanda Veldtman, who lives near the Hare and Barrel Hotel on Brandon Road, said at the meeting: 'I have grave concerns about the site which originally led the residents to believe it would be an allergy clinic and we found out from Facebook rather than through official channels.
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'The windows of the property overlook my property and the building is flanked by family homes.
'Our families are very nervous about their safety.'
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Mrs Veldtman added she did not believe the hotel would provide a benefit to the people of Watton as the plans state the centre will be run privately.
She said: 'At what price are these 17 new jobs? It could be that it is viewed as an asylum and that end of Watton would be very undesirable.
'The owners are putting profit before the town.'
Concerns about the lack of a site notice and proper communication with residents were also raised, with councillors mentioning the loss of a pub as a community asset.
Town councillor Stan Hebborn said: 'We should be fighting to retain this property as a community asset.'
Mayor of Watton Tina Kiddell added: 'If these people doing it are the hotel chain it would be a far better investment to reopen it as a hotel but that is not grounds to object.'
The council resolved to feed back to the planning authority that members were unhappy about the loss of a community asset and disappointed at the lack of communication with nearby residents.
The developer behind the change of the pub, Nick Conn of Verve Hotels, rebuffed concerns and said residents would not be at risk.
He said: 'Our concern is that we run an exceptionally well run facility. We are an alcohol and substance abuse clinic.
'When we are treating these people, it might pop up that they have other addiction issues such as gambling, shopping, sometimes sex and it doesn't mean that they paedophiles.'
Mr Conn said concerns about sex addicts were not applicable and he confirmed the centre would not be dealing with NHS referrals.
He also confirmed the centre will have 24 hour waking staff, will be CQC rated, and any patient leaving early will have a full transport plan decided and controlled by the centre and other organisations.
He added: 'There will be a huge amount of policy and procedure in place and the centre will be run by an award winning manager with more than 15 years experience running these facilities.
'We need to know that patients are suitable for us and we are suitable for them. These people have £11/12,000 spare. They are not interested in breaking into your house.'