HELENSBURGH’S only launderette fears it may have to close after plans were approved for a takeaway in the premises next door.

The clothes-cleaning facility, on East Clyde Street, has been in the town for around 20 years and is the only launderette within a 10-mile radius of the town.

Its owner Irene Harper was one of eight people to object to the plans for the takeaway at 39 East Clyde Street, formerly owned by Helensburgh Cycles.

But despite the protests, the plans for the ‘sui generis’ (unique) eaterie were approved by Argyll and Bute Council’s planning department on Thursday, January 31.

The nearest alternative launderette is located near Dumbarton East railway station, and there are none closer to the peninsula without getting a ferry to Gourock. Other dry cleaners operate in Helensburgh, but there is no other launderette.

In a submission to the council before the decision was made, Irene said: “The business I have successfully run in the town for around 20 years is a launderette and dry cleaners. We deal with many elderly and the most vulnerable people in our town.

“The nature of my business is to clean laundry and return in pristine condition, smelling fresh. This will be absolutely compromised with the guaranteed smells from a fast food outlet right next door to my business.

“In our business we must have huge air intake to comply with gas regulations. We rely on air vents for fresh air intake.

“We may be unable to continue trading if this application is allowed to go ahead as we cannot legally close the vents.

“We are the only dry cleaners and launderette within a 10-mile radius and to cease trading would be detrimental to the town as a whole.

“If this application was to go ahead, it would most definitely have an adverse impact on residents and our business, associated with noise, fumes, parking, litter, vermin and antisocial behaviour.”

Irene was contacted for further comment once the application was approved, but had nothing to add.

In a council report addressing her concerns, planning officer Stephanie Spreng said: “I have spoken with environmental health, who are satisfied that the ventilation is adequate to successfully remove the smells from the building without affecting the launderette/dry cleaners.”

The report added that environmental health had no objections to the application in terms of potential noise or disturbance to residents.

It also stated that the perceived need for another takeaway in the town, and the potential for police presence with pub goers looking for food, were not material planning considerations.

Ms Spreng said: “When considering all applications, the residential amenity of surrounding residents must be taken into consideration.

“It is inevitable that residents in this area already experience a certain amount of noise and disturbance with the street located within the town centre.

“This noise and disturbance is higher than experienced in quiet residential streets and is out with the control of the applicant.

“The site itself is a vacant ground floor retail unit on a street of tenements with commercial properties at ground floor level.

“While it is understandable that there will be concerns with smell and increased level of activity, this is a town centre location where this is to be expected.

“Given the proposed location is within the town centre and the area environmental health manager is satisfied with the proposals, it is considered that the development accords with this policy.”