Watton hotel set to turn into drug rehab centre despite residents’ ‘plea’

The Hare and Barrel hotel in Watton which could become an rehabilitation centre for recovering addic

The Hare and Barrel hotel in Watton which could become an rehabilitation centre for recovering addicts. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

Plans to transform a revamped hotel into a drug rehabilitation facility have been given the green light by councillors, despite a “plea” from residents to save the town venue.

Owners of The Hare and Barrel Hotel on Brandon Road, Watton, first applied to convert the hotel into a private specialist centre for addiction issues in 2018.

But following objections from the community the scheme was withdrawn and the hotel reopened after a £1m facelift the next year.

Now despite the refurbishment, the original plans to create a drug and alcohol recovery facility have been resubmitted to Breckland Council, which debated the issue at a planning committee meeting held on Monday, September 28.

READ MORE: Plans entered for hotel to be turned into drug rehabilitation centre

Planning officer Tom Donnelly told the committee the owners had requested a change of use from a hotel to a residential care facility, in order to offer specialist, private drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

But residents pleaded with councillors to reject the move.

Neighbour Paul Knights said: “The concept of an addiction centre in a quiet residential area on a busy road where frequent lorries delivering pigs to be slaughtered with the noise and the smells that they produce as well as a nearby live firing range used by the military is ludicrous. Patients need a peaceful environment.”

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And Tina Kiddle added: “It is my plea to you to refuse this application and save our venue - to keep a much-used facility that Watton loves and needs.”

But Aida McManus, planning agent, said: “It will be regulated by the CQC and a private facility, not NHS. Clients are people with high-pressure jobs - such as police officers, judges, professional sports players.”

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And Nick Conn, from Help For Addiction, said: “Over 12 years ago now I was a police officer who had suffered from drug addiction.

“I understand the importance of residential rehab - otherwise I definitely wouldn’t be here today.

“We enable clients to overcome addition via medical detox followed by world-class rehab to address underlying issues”

Planning officer Rebecca Collins said: “The building is being lawfully used a hotel at this time.”

Independent councillor Roger Atterwill said: “I’m concerned that this is the only pub on that side of the town. I’m not convinced there’s been consideration of the impact in the town centre of losing this facility.”

The committee voted to approve the plans - with eight voting for, one against and one abstention.

READ MORE: Safeguarding concerns raised over hotel which could become rehab centre