Councillors have rejected a plan to install a drug misuse rehabilitation centre run by a charity.
The centre would have been at 5 Horsemarket in central Kettering.
Councillors on Kettering Council’s planning committee decided by four votes to three to reject the plan submitted by charity Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI).
Sarah Franklin, from Isis Legal in Horsemarket, told councillors she and fellow business owners in the area were very concerned about the proposal.
She said: “I believe the centre will damage the whole environment. Shops will remain boarded up or closed if this is granted. I accept there is a need for this kind of service but this is entirely the wrong place for it.”
But Graham Turner, facilities manager at CRI, who also addressed the meeting, insisted the proposal was important and any local business fears would quickly be proved to be misplaced.
He said: “Once the project is open the concern goes away and we get a lot of people coming in and saying what a good job the project is doing.”
He added the three-storey building – formerly used by Citizens Advice Bureau – was ideal because it included a lift, something which was often hard to come by in premises they were looking to move in to.
Neighbours had submitted objections, including concerns about the risk to pedestrians with needles or other harmful substances left on the floor, noise and disturbance and a possible increase in crime.
It was also claimed the centre would not be in keeping with the area’s residential and retail character, near to bars and restaurants.
Cllr Steve Bellamy, who voted against the plan, said: “I think it’s a valid cause but for where it is, personally I think it’s too much of a risk.”
Cllr Linda Adams, who backed it, said: “To me this is a really good idea to help a group of people who need support.”
She said the centre would be ideally placed with good public transport links for users.