CONTROVERSIAL plans to open a drug and alcohol treatment centre in the heart of Southend look set to get the go-ahead.

Planning officers at Southend Council have recommended South Essex Partnership Trust’s bid to use the empty County Chambers building, in Weston Road, as the new base for its Community Drug and Alcohol Service (CDAS) is approved on Wednesday. 

The plans to use the former solicitors’ office, just off the High Street, have sparked controversy among traders, campaigners and potential neighbours.

But Andrew Lewis, the council’s corporate director for enterprise, tourism and the environment, said he was happy with the idea.

He said: “The proposed use would provide a health service for which there is a need in this location.

“It would also replace an existing facility which the applicant states is well-used and an essential healthcare service for local residents, and is valuable to the local community in respect of health improvement, crime reduction and safeguarding.”