PLANS to turn a mid-terraced house in a leafy riverside area of Stirling into a support centre for victims of rape have been approved by councillors despite opposition from residents, one of whom says he fears young children may be “exposed” to the problems of sexually assaulted women.
Stirling Council received nine objections to moves by Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre (FVRCC) for change of use consent to allow the organisation to turn the house, 22 Millar Place, Riverside, Stirling, into offices and to run operate a new service from the address.
Neighbours complained that the plans could set a precedent by opening up the neighbourhood to commercial use.
Plannng officials told Stirling Council’s planning panel that the house would have no signage or indication that it was used for anything other than a residential purpose.
However, opaque glass has been installed in the bay window of the desirable post-Victorian villa, anonymous blinds have been fitted in the upstairs windows, a door-entry system has been installed, and the front door itself has been painted vivid purple -- the official colour of the International Women’s Movement.
Successfully supporting a motion to approve the centre, Stirling councillor Scott Farmer told the planning panel: “I think with the conditions recommended the residents are suitably protected and we should approve this application.”
A “quite explicit and very restrictive” condition on use of the property means that should Rape Crisis move from the property, it will have revert back to residential use.
The committee heard that Forth Valley Rape Crisis was operating office hours, and not a 24-hour crisis centre from the premises.
FVRCC took over the role of helping victims of sexual violence from Central Scotland Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre, which was based in a non-residential area near the city centre, but closed last year.
It leased the house in Millar Place and applied to the council for change of use from residential to commercial.
Last month it claimed its scheme had received “very positive feedback” from residents.
However, it later emerged that a number of objections had been lodged.
“It is part of a national network of 14 centres across Scotland and will provide this much-needed service to people in Stirling and across the Forth Valley area.
We would be happy to meet up with anyone who raised objections to the establishment of the new centre and would be glad to answer any questions.”