A new nursery, community hall and nine new houses will be built on the site of the Friar’s Community Centre and the former Friar’s Library and now-closed Renown Pupil Referral Unit.
Planning permission was granted earlier this week to demolish and redevelop the library and referral unit, the existing car park and community hall in Centurion Close, Shoeburyness.
The regeneration of the brownfield site will be carried out by PSP Southend LLP, the Council’s development company, and will include a new home for the Friar’s Centre Playgroup, which is currently located in the Community Centre.
As part of the project, the Council successfully bid to the Department for Education for £331,837 to enable the new nursery to create 24 new places and extend its current 26 places from part time to full time. Development of the site will start soon, with the nursery set to open in Autumn 2017.
Cllr Andrew Moring, Executive Councillor with responsibility for assets, says: “Gaining planning permission is great news. It means we can get on with this development that will regenerate what is an underused and partially vacant brownfield site.
“It will also provide a new nursery and new family housing in a sustainable location that is close to public transport connections, services and facilities. We are very pleased that this project will be delivered by PSP Southend LLP, the Council’s development company, which will give the best value for money to the council and local taxpayers.”
Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, says: “This project will deliver a new state of the art nursery for local children with high quality play areas both inside and out and thanks to our successful funding bid, we can also develop new and existing childcare places for working parents ready for September 2017 when the new 30 hours of free childcare entitlement begins.”
Stacey Rawnsley, Manager of the Friars Centre Playgroup, says: “I am delighted to hear the plans have been approved. The new proposal is the best way forward to not just secure, but expand the invaluable childcare that Friars Centre Playgroup provides for parents. I could not be any prouder of my team, and I am very lucky to have such a wonderful team with a positive work ethic who put the children at the centre of everything they do. We are particularly delighted that a large outdoor area has been incorporated in the plans as this will strengthen the children’s development and enable us to continue our long term goal of becoming an outstanding setting.
“We play an important part in providing affordable childcare and are already operating at nearly full capacity. By giving us the opportunity to expand we will be able to offer more places from Autumn 2017, accommodating those looking to take up the 30 hours of free childcare being offered by the Government, as well as supporting working parents and those looking to return to work throughout the year.
“I look forward to seeing the development take place and sharing this experience with our children. The Committee and I will be busy planning for the exciting future Friars Centre Playgroup ensuring we grasp every opportunity to progress and be successful in the future.”
Adam Cunnington, Managing Director of Public Sector Plc, said: “We are delighted that another significant step towards delivering a much needed new community facility has been achieved by this partnership with the Council.
“This combination of private and public sector skills and resources is being used creatively to drive value from assets to achieve exciting and positive outcomes for the local community. We look forward to seeing this project through to completion.”
The Friars Centre Playgroup opened in 1974 and is currently rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted.