Drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Sutton applies for planning permission two years after opening

Steps Together Rehab Limited
Steps Together Rehab Limited

A private drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit has applied for retrospective planning permission,since opening in August 2017.

Steps Together Rehab Limited, which operates a 17-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit at Bank House on Church Street, has submitted a planning application for a change of use for the premises.

The home previously had only been granted permission to be used as a care home for the elderly, so an application has been submitted to remove the condition that the home can only be used for this purpose.

The application was refused in January on the grounds that the removal of the condition would "result in a significant material change of use of the premises, with the proposed use as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre bearing very little resemblance to a care home".

The refusal notice continues: "The proposed use of the premises... is considered to result in a significant detrimental impact on the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers by way of increased disturbance."

The application states: "Use as a residential home for the elderly and use as a residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre fall within the same use class (C2).

"Because of this Steps Together did not appreciate that there was any need to apply for planning permission for the change the use of Bank House from a residential home for the elderly to use as a residential drug and rehabilitation centre; accordingly the change was made without applying for such permission (or applying for planning permission for modification of the conditions the subject of this appeal).

"The local planning authority subsequently requested a planning application for the change of use of the site from a residential home for the elderly to a residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre."

Eight letters of objection have been received by Ashfield District Council council, objecting on the basis of noise disturbance, anti-social behaviour, high turnover of users, increased comings and goings, residents congregating on the front of the premises, nuisance lighting, strain on emergency services, increase of on-site parking, and devaluation of property.

Steps Together are now appealing this decision, and state in the planning documents that they have taken steps to address neighbouring residents concerns, such as restricting visiting hours, investigating 'nuisance' lighting, and advising staff to park off site in Sutton Town Centre.

The privately run rehab, which costs £9,000 for a 28-day stay, states that residents undergo a 'vigorous' pre-admission assessment before they are permitted to stay.

Residents must also sign a treatment contract, that forbids them from purchasing or taking any form of drugs or alcohol, to participate in random drugs tests, to refrain from violence, and to attend all timetabled activities.

Steps Together has also undertaken their own survey of neighbouring residents, to see if they had any concerns about the premises.

The document states: "One resident raised the issue of noise from the garden area.

"Action was taken to resolve this complaint by erecting signs in and outside the building asking users to keep the noise levels down."

Over 25 letters of support have been submitted, including a statement from Nottinghamshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Paddy Tipping.

In the appeal statement, Darren Rolfe of Steps Together Rehab states: "Before opening we invited all of our neighbours (20 houses in total) into Bank House to introduce ourselves and explain what we were hoping to achieve at the facility.

"Also to answer any questions and support any fears which arose.

"Since opening in August 2017 the facility has been run with qualified professionals, ranging from consultant psychiatrists, nurses, therapists, support workers, administrator, admission co-ordinator, chefs and housekeepers.

"Steps Together Rehab currently employs 16 full-time members of staff and 3 part-time.

"We have made many positive relationships with local businesses, places of worship, leisure facilities and local residents.

"We have been really fortunate in being supported by our local community, as the majority understand we are changing lives for the better and that the impact of this on society is immeasurable.

"Of course there are people who are scared of the words addiction and have a negative opinion of people suffering from this condition.

"As a business we have also invested in the community, by opening local drug and alcohol based support groups in Sutton in Ashfield, to offer recovery to those who cannot afford our service.

"We are a completely private facility, clients who choose to get well pay to come into our establishment. We have treated people from all walks of life i.e. police, nurses, surgeons, teachers, professional sportsmen, business men, solicitors etc.

"Therefore our facility must be run professionally and to the highest standard. Again we are registered by the CQC if we didn’t adhere to their strict guidelines we simply would not be allowed to trade.

"Bank House is a safe environment for addicts to start their lives in recovery. Our staff are fully qualified and have ongoing training to enhance their development and refresh their qualifications.

"All staff are supervised and have line managers who support them on a daily basis. Before any client comes in to our facility they will undergo a robust pre-admission assessment to make sure their needs can be met.

"On admission into Steps Together Rehab every client is given our treatment contract (our rules).

"They are made aware that if they break the contract there is a disciplinary process that takes place.

"We have zero tolerance for any client bringing in alcohol and or drugs into our facility.

"It is also highly unlikely that this could happen, as they are fully supervised at all times when they leave the facility, for example to go shopping.

"We also have CCTV cameras internally and externally to reassure staff and clients that Bank House is a safe place to be. We do not allow clients to bring motor vehicles into treatment, our staff do not park on the street outside our facility to ensure that Church Street can keep its traffic flowing without excess parking.

"Clients only have visitors on Sundays between 1.00pm – 5.30pm, when they are able to go out with their family members.

"We ask family members to park two streets away to respect our neighbours on Church Street.

"We are always keen to support our neighbours and be mindful of their needs on this lovely street.

"After 12 months of trading I visited our neighbours to ask if there was any feedback. The general feedback was very good. The only concern that arose was the parking, which has now been rectified.

"Our aftercare facility which is on offer to every client free of charge, for a period of 12 months is really where we see the good work that we have accomplished here collectively.

"It gives us great pleasure to see the positive development of our clients in their recoveries when they come back and share their life stories.

"How being clean and sober has enabled them to be a worthwhile member of society and allowed them to start fulfilling their potential."

You can view the full planning application here: https://www2.ashfield.gov.uk/cfusion/Planning/plan_view_docs.cfm?reference=V/2018/0709