Controversy over plans for rehabilitation centre in Tunes .jpg

Controversy over plans for rehabilitation centre in Tunes

RESIDENTS IN Tunes are outraged that an English couple are planning to convert a 1,500sqm plot of land in the area, to a rehabilitation clinic called the Nova Vida Recovery Centre (New Life). Andrew and Sally Vincent recently purchased a large single storey house, with land, on a hill, with views of Monchique, around 15km outside Tunes.

One of 52 residents, who have sent a petition to Silves Câmara opposing the centre, and who asked not to be named, spoke to The Resident with regard to the concerns of local people. “The Clinic will violate several laws and may compromise the safety of residents and businesses, as the emergency services are too far away if anything ever happened. One of the laws that would be flouted states that, it is illegal for a business to operate on residential land.”

A meeting was held at Silves Câmara on May 10, to discuss the Plano Director Municipal (PDM), municipal planning document, and ascertain opinions from local residents, business owners and members of the council. The Resident was told it appeared at least two of the council members were clearly in opposition to the Centre. At least one of the local residents had a lawyer present, who argued the legality of the project.

Around a quarter of those residents living in the area surrounding the Vincent’s property, both Portuguese and expatriates, attended the meeting. One of the other concerns of the neighbours was how the opening of a rehabilitation centre would affect property and land value. “These people have invested a great deal of money to settle here and this clinic will result in them having unsellable property,” said one of the locals who attended the meeting.

Speaking to The Resident, Andrew Vincent argues that, “The Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs has been responsible for increasing property values in the area. The clinic established itself in society as a peaceful place and this image is what increased local revenues”.

The Vincents are awaiting approval from the Câmara and licenses from the Ministry of Health. They have spoken to the President of Silves Câmara, Isabel Soares and have been told that it may take many months to obtain the relevant licenses, if they do. The Vincents assured The Resident that they would not open the Centre until all the paperwork was completed, but they were disappointed by some of the opposition to their clinic. “We would like the opportunity to explain the project fully and demonstrate what we do, to the locals. It will be a place where recovering addicts can be at peace in a beautiful area, to work on themselves. That’s why we chose that specific area.”

Silves Câmara was not able to supply any further information about the project or the meeting, or any details as to how long the council approval process is likely to drag out.  

The Resident also contacted the Administração Regional de Saúde do Algarve (ARS), the Algarve regional health authority, but was told that, to date, it was not aware of the proposed centre and had not been consulted regarding the licenses from the Ministry of Health.