THE City of Greater Geelong council adopted plans proposed by not-for-profit Foundation 61 to open a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for women at Mount Duneed.
The plans for the centre on 120 Russells Road will now be sent to the Minister for Planning for approval.
Foundation 61 founder and director Rob Lytzki said work is ready to begin on the site as soon as the Minister for Planning gives authorisation.
“Once he gives the stamp of approval, we’re ready to go. We’ll be waiting on the side of the road with picks and shovels ready to start building.”
Mr Lytzki said he expected the construction of the facility to take approximately eight months.
Foundation 61 presently runs an all-male live-in community at 470 Williams Road, providing individually focused rehabilitation programs.
Mr Lytzki said he was delighted to finally see the project move the next phase given the urgent need for the facilities
“There’s been a large team working on it for almost five years,” Mr Lytzki said.
“If Geelong women have their own facilities, we can cater for them locally, keep them connected with families.”
In March this year an independent panel assessed the viability of the site after the planning proposal received 31 submissions and a petition of 130 signatories opposing the development.
The panel noted the Barwon Region lacked affordable and accessible residential treatment facilities offering long-term rehabilitation programs dedicated to women and recommended council approve the plans.
The concerns expressed in the submissions included suitability of the location, the safety of nearby residents and users of the adjoining reserve, vegetation removal and increased traffic.
Kardinia Ward council Bruce Harwood said council had been thorough in responding to these concerns and could comfortably conclude the facilities would be of great benefit to the community.
“Under the guidance of Foundation 61, this critical facility will help women who are experiencing desperate times and want to get their lives back on track, to return to the Greater Geelong community as good, strong contributors,” said Cr Harwood
“Foundation 61 has a proven track record of putting the lives of those who have been devastated by drug and alcohol issues back together.
“The issues that have been raised by the community have been addressed by the Independent Panel.”
Some minor amendments were included in council’s approval, including a sign with contact details for residents to raise any concerns and for council to carry out replanting in the reserve to offset the loss of some native vegetation.