Respite for centre as new site is found

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A RESPITE centre for children with disabilities is finally set to be rebuilt on the site of a former primary school after more than seven years of waiting.

The Seaview Children's Respite Centre, which is currently based in unsuitable premises in Portobello, will be recreated on the site of the old Lismore Primary by summer 2013, if plans get the go-ahead.

Council bosses have been searching for a suitable site for a number of years and believe the old school site in Bingham is the best option.

The new 2.4 million centre 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.

The facility will cater for up to 60 children and their families - an increase on the current numbers using the service - and will provide a living and sleeping area and a specially designed sensory garden.

City education leader, Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, said: "I am delighted to announce a purpose-built facility that will be able to provide essential respite care.

"The centre is vital for families exhausted by demanding care routines but who need to be assured that their youngsters are cared for in a safe and stimulating environment.

"We will fully involve staff and carers in the design of the centre so that it can become a genuine home from home.

"I am also very pleased that we'll be able to increase capacity so that even more families can access the support."

The centre will take up half of the Lismore Primary site, with plans for the other half yet to be decided by council chiefs.

The old school - which closed in December 2008 - is waiting to be demolished, but this cannot be done until an O2 mobile phone mast is relocated.

It is set to be moved this month, but any delays to this will have a knock-on effect on the respite centre project.

A report by education director Gillian Tee and city development director Dave Anderson says: "Despite the existing building's well-documented lack of fitness for purpose, suitability and capacity issues, which led the council to commit to its replacement, the search for an appropriate location for the new centre has been a challenge.

"After consideration of several options, the site of the former Lismore Primary School was identified as a suitable location."

Councillors are being asked to vote through the plans at a meeting next week. If agreed, work will begin in spring 2012, with completion earmarked for summer the following year.