Protestors are “devastated” after a charity was given the go-ahead to convert a former Motherwell hotel into a rehabilitation centre for people with addiction problems.
Earlier this year hundreds of people signed a petition protesting at plans for the disused Old Mill Hotel, known latterly as the Water Mill, in Braidhurst Street.
North Lanarkshire Council turned down the proposal by Betel UK, part of a worldwide organisation which provides accommodation and employment opportunities for people wanting to turn their life around. These include people who are addicted to drink or drugs, homeless or long-term unemployed.
Local residents told councillors on the planning committee they didn’t want such a facility “in the middle of our close-knit community”.
However, an appeal against the council decision has been upheld by Scottish Government reporter Karen Black.
She acknowledged residents’ concerns regarding safety and anti-social behaviour, but said she had considered statements from various parties, including police officers in other areas where Betel provide similar facilities.
Ms Black added: “I have to conclude there is no compelling evidence to suggest that the proposed facility would result in increased crime or anti-social behaviour in the area.
“Taking into account its previous use as a hotel, its detached and screened position from the nearby housing and that no physical alterations are included, I find the proposed use integrates well and would not have any adverse impact on the general amenity or character of the area.
“The proposal will bring back into use a listed building so the property will be safeaguarded.”
Ms Black also dismissed the council’s claim that the building should be retained as a hotel if possible in order to meet demand from tourists. She said the loss of an eight-bedroom hoel would not have a significant effect on supply.
The Betel proposal is for accommodation for up to 26 people, including staff. Residents would be offered training and involvement in landscaping and furniture restoration, the charity’s related businesses.
The reporter’s comments haven’t convinced objectors to the plans.
Elaine Morris, who led the protest campaign, said: “We are devastated by this decision and feel let down by the Scottish Government. People living in the area don’t want this, but the reporter doesn’t seem to have taken our feelings into account.
“However, we fought a good fight and just have to accept this decision.”