Go-ahead for ‘rehab’ flats in West Dunbartonshire

PLANS to transform a block of flats in Drumry into supported living accommodation for ex-drug addicts have been given the green-light by planning chiefs.

The decision was made at a meeting of West Dunbartonshire planning committee last Wednesday when the plans for the Jean Armour Drive properties were given the seal of approval.

Last October, the Clydebank Post revealed the plans which sparked outrage in the Drumry community where residents dreaded the thought of youngsters living close to drug addicts in rehab.

However, despite gathering a 300 signature petition opposing the plans, no official objections were officially filed with the council.

Staff at Alternatives, a Big Lottery-funded addiction support service which will help run the unit, sent letters to 400 homes in the Drumry area, while council staff sent letters to 35 nearby homes and also held two public consultation meetings.

Alternatives received nine phone calls from concerned members of the public but it is understood that all of the callers expressed support for the new project once the proposals had been explained to them.

Plans have also been discussed to set up a liaison group with the public to ensure their concerns are answered by those running the organisation.

Councillor Denis Agnew said: “Obviously I support the work of Alternatives and our social work department but I’m still concerned about what residents who live in the immediate area feel about it. I’m also concerned about why they chose this area as we already have difficulties in the Drumry area.

“I support Alternatives but when it comes to planning I think there should be more thought as to where things like this go.”

Back in October, Donnie McGilveray, general manager of Alternatives, gave assurances to concerned members of the Drumry community that the project would not cause chaos in the area.

He said: “While we understand the concerns raised by the community, I would like to assure everyone that the people who will live in this supported accommodation are not at the chaotic, drug-using end of the spectrum but are at the other end where they have given up their drug use and need help to stay drug free.

“People who have been brave enough to address their problems and seek help to go through this journey need all the help they can get.

“Until now, we have been able to provide much of the support required but the good work can sometimes be undone because the person may live in a chaotic situation.”

Last week, an anonymous Clydebank Post reader, who has a loved one battling addiction, called for the local community to offer support to those in recovery.

They said: “As a community we should be welcoming such a programme as it is going to be aiding the recovery of addicts to enable them to eventually start living their lives to the full instead of just existing in the sad world of drug addiction.

“It may not be ideal for people, but it’s for addicts in recovery who have been lucky enough to make their lives better and more manageable and to regain part of their lives because most have lost a huge part of theirs due to addiction.”