WORK will finally commence on a new £2.4 million respite centre for disabled children tomorrow after a wait of more than eight years.
The Seaview Children’s Respite Centre, which is currently housed in “unsuitable” premises in Joppa, will be re-built on the site of the old Lismore Primary School.
Builders will start work on site tomorrow and the centre is expected to be open by May 2013.
The facility will provide regular short breaks for young people aged between five and 17 with a range of learning and physical disabilities, as well as offering a care-at-home service.
It will cater for up to 60 children and their families – an increase on current numbers – and will provide living and sleeping areas and a specially designed sensory garden.
Council bosses searched for a suitable site for a number of years and believed the old school site in Bingham was the best option.
Centre manager Carol Mentiplay said both the children and staff had been involved in the design of the new building.
She said: “We are all really excited about the new building. We have had a lot of workshops to look at exactly what we need and what the young people would like to have in the new building – they’re all excited about it. This included the colours, the themes we’re going to have in the bathrooms and bedrooms, and what kind of things the young people would like in the garden – like a trampoline and football pitch.
“We are setting up a Friends of Seaview charity and we will hopefully raise enough money for the things that we don’t have money for at the moment, like the trampoline. We will already have the football pitch.”
The city council said the new centre would provide greater access, more space and better facilities, all on a level surface.
City education leader Paul Godzik said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the work will very shortly be under way. I think it will be a fantastic facility and a great investment. Respite is hugely important and I think providing this service for youngsters with additional support needs will be very welcome.”
A sod-cutting event to mark the start of the work will take place tomorrow at 3pm.
The children will continue to use the current premises in Seaview Crescent until the new building is ready.
Family Focus, which provides an outreach respite service to children with disabilities, will also be based in the new building on Bingham Avenue.