THE withdrawal of a controversial plan to turn a Weymouth B&B into a drug and alcohol recovery centre has been welcomed by campaigners as a “victory for common sense”.

Dorset County Council, which wanted to site the recovery hub at 22 Abbotsbury Road, withdrew the planning application ahead of a meeting this month when it was due to be considered by county councillors.

DCC’s planning portal was flooded with objections against the proposal.

The authority said it acted after listening to Weymouth residents, businesses and councillors. It will now be “working closely with the borough council and other partners to identify a suitable property”.

DCC secured a Public Health grant to fund a centre and plans to site one in Abbotsbury Road emerged earlier this year.

A heated public meeting on February 14 saw no love lost between council chiefs and opponents.

While residents accepted the need for such a facility, they said the location was inappropriate, being in a built-up area on the edge of the town centre next to shops and other holiday businesses.

They feared it would have an adverse affect on an area already blighted by drink and drug problems.

Proprietors of neighbouring B&Bs, who presented a 700-plus petition to the council, strongly disagreed with a DCC claim that the B&B at 22 Abbotsbury Road (Basil Towers) was not a viable holiday business – and therefore should not be closed and converted.

They claimed to state it was not a viable business when neighbouring businesses were operating successfully would contravene planning policies.

Campaigners argued a detached property with more space would be far more suitable for the hub.

Borough council planners also objected, stating the site was not the right location and would result in an ‘inappropriate’ lack of tourist accommodation. They said an alternative location should be found immediately.

One of the lead campaigners, John Richards, a B&B owner, said: “This is a real victory for common sense. Locating the hub at 22 Abbotsbury Road would have done nothing for the local community and given no privacy or dignity to service users.

“Retraction of the planning application is a testimony to the hard work put in by a small group of residents and also the support of the community and the majority of borough councillors.”

He added: “It is our only wish that DCC works with W&PBC in locating the right property in Weymouth to help people that really need the help.”

Fellow B&B owner Angela Monahan said: “DCC has accepted 22 Abbotsbury Road is inappropriate and inadequate for these proposals and has made the right decision. We have all clearly said from the onset that we agree the need is great for this facility.

“DCC now needs to move quickly in finding the right property in the right location.”

She suggested a temporary base at Weymouth Hospital for the hub until somewhere suitable was found.

DORSET County Council said it had withdrawn its planning application to convert a guest house into a centre to support local people recovering from problems with alcohol and other drugs to allow for further consideration of all the options available.

The council had submitted a change of use application for 22 Abbotsbury Road to invest a grant from Public Health England to create a recovery hub for people committed to dealing with their problems.

Cllr Steve Butler, DCC member for safeguarding, said: “We want to help address the town’s long-standing issues with alcohol and other drugs, and local residents and councillors have told us that they are also supportive of the need for a recovery hub in Weymouth.

“However, through the planning consultation period we have listened to the views of local people and have decided to allow for reflection and further investigation of all the options available.

“We will be working closely with the borough council and other partners to identify a suitable property.”

DCC says the rates of drug use in Weymouth are double that in the county as a whole, and more than 40 per cent of those who currently access treatment in Dorset live in Weymouth and Portland.

Services in Weymouth to support people with issues with alcohol or other drugs continue to be available.