Plans to turn Stevenage hotel into addiction rehab centre sparks concern

PUBLISHED: 08:28 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:34 05 December 2019

There is a proposal to turn the Abbington Hotel on Stevenage's Hitchin Road into a residential rehabilitation centre for addicts. Picture: Daniel Wilson

There is a proposal to turn the Abbington Hotel on Stevenage's Hitchin Road into a residential rehabilitation centre for addicts. Picture: Daniel Wilson

Daniel Wilson

Plans to turn a hotel into a residential rehabilitation care centre for addicts have prompted concern.

Arco Developments intends to transform Abbington Hotel on Hitchin Road in Stevenage Old Town into an addiction rehabilitation centre.

In a letter to residents living close to the hotel, professional community consultation company Your Shout wrote: "The proposals will not involve any major changes to the building. The application to Stevenage Borough Council will be for a change of use from hotel to residential care.

"The new facilities will care for people suffering from addictions and provide them with the very best rehabilitation. There will be specialist on site nurses and counsellors to provide help and support for individuals."

Two workshops have been held at the hotel to provide people with the opportunity to learn more about the proposals and the people behind the facility, with feelings said to have run high.

Stephen Harris, who lives in Essex Road, said: "It was very well attended and there was quite a heated debate. There was a lot of feeling in the room that it's not a suitable location for an addiction rehab centre. It's a prime residential area and there will be people living there who have drug and alcohol addictions, and all the associated issues. There's a whole set of issues that we are looking at as residents."

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He continued: "Stevenage is already struggling, with Waitrose and the post office closing, and there is a problem with homelessness and drugs in the town.

"We are members of the Old Town community and we only want the best for the town. This is not that. It's a money-making exercise - it's a business, not a charity.

"We do need to have these types of facilities, but at the same time we don't want it right on our doorstep.

"We will back onto the facility and we have children, so would be concerned for their safety."

Stephen says he is waiting for the application to be submitted to the council so he can formally object to the proposal, and he believes "a huge number of people" will follow suit, based on the concerns aired during the dedicated workshops. "There's real concern," he said.

A spokesman for the management team behind the plans said: "The safety and wellbeing of clients, staff and our neighbours is of the highest importance to us. Our track record in both providing effective treatment and keeping everyone safe speaks for itself.

"We will seek to ensure there is a minimum of noise and disruption to our neighbours whilst we carry out the necessary works to the hotel building.

"We are grateful for the feedback received so far and will continue to work with and listen to local people and Stevenage Borough Council as we seek to finalise the details of the scheme."

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