Youth fa­cil­ity fi­nally gets the green light af­ter a 10- year wait

Solihull News - - NEWS - DAVID IR­WIN david. ir­[email protected] reach­plc. com

A SOLI­HULL vil­lage is fi­nally set to get a pur­pose­built youth fa­cil­ity af­ter more than a decade of dis­cus­sions.

Plans to cre­ate a venue in Dick­ens Heath were pre­vi­ously ham­pered by dif­fi­cul­ties iden­ti­fy­ing a suitable site.

But this week a £ 300,000 scheme to build premises on the grounds of the Com­mu­nity Pri­mary School took a ma­jor step for­ward.

Ap­prov­ing the plans, Coun­cil­lor Joe Tildes­ley, cabi­net mem­ber for leisure, tourism and sport, said it was “great news” for the vil­lage.

The project will be funded by de­vel­op­ers’ Sec­tion 106 con­tri­bu­tions, which the coun­cil has amassed since 2004.

One ad­van­tage of the lengthy de­lay is that a large enough sum had be­come avail­able to af­ford a build­ing; a more am­bi­tious pro­posal than the out­door games area or skate park that had orig­i­nally been sug­gested.

It is hoped the fa­cil­ity will also of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties for the wider com­mu­nity.

Chris Barr, the coun­cil’s head of pub­lic realm, said: “While it has been a long jour­ney, as of­fi­cers we feel we’re in quite a priv­i­leged po­si­tion to pro­vide some­thing a lit­tle bit big­ger and bet­ter.”

Coun Ch­eryl Bux­tonSait ( Green, Cas­tle Bromwich) had asked for as­sur­ances that the scheme would have a se­cure fu­ture given the lack of money avail­able for youth ser­vices.

“As every­body knows we’re try­ing to do more with less. Less money from cen­tral gov­ern­ment. Youth ser­vice pro­vi­sion has had mas­sive cuts.

“So we’ve got this great fa­cil­ity, what are your thoughts about keep­ing it sus­tain­able? It would be a shame af­ter two years if there’s no money left to keep it go­ing.”

She be­lieved that if the project did prove to be sus­tain­able, there was scope for schemes of a sim­i­lar kind else­where in Soli­hull. Mr Barr said that more de­tails on the longterm plan would be brought to a de­ci­sion ses­sion in the New Year, but it was in­tended to work closely with the school and lo­cal groups in­clud­ing the Scouts and Dick­ens Heath Youth Club.

De­tailed work con­tin­ues on the de­sign of the sin­gle- storey premises, which will have to be ap­proved by the coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee.

Of­fi­cers had ad­vised that a mod­u­lar build­ing was favoured over bricks and mor­tar, be­cause it could be as­sem­bled far more quickly and “mas­sively re­duces dis­rup­tion” to both the school and the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

The pro­posed site plan for the pur­pose- built Dick­ens Heath youth fa­cil­ity

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