Work starts on Monday (November 21) on the third phase of the transformation of the former Edgmond Church into a building that will offer housing for people with disabilities and a warm and welcoming community centre for all.
This phase, which will cost £479,000, will involve re-ordering the building’s interior and creating new facilities. These will include toilets, a commercial kitchen, function rooms and a charity shop that will raise funds for the development and the services it will provide.
A new lift will let disabled people, those with limited mobility, and carers and parents with pushchairs, reach the building’s first-floor meeting rooms and administration office. It will also enable access to the communal rooms for the residents of the 16 ensuite studio-apartments for people with a severe learning disability. Once funding has been found, these apartments will be created during Phase 4 of the project.
The completed centre will be a focus for a wide range of community and support activities and events. These will include training and work experience in hospitality, catering and retail, as well as continuing self-help skills for residents and students with a learning disability who are living in the community. It is expected that work will be complete by spring next year.
The project is being led by The JPK Sussex Project. The first phase saw them buy the building. In April 2013 planning consent was granted for a Supported Living Centre for people with a learning disability which includes re-ordering the redundant church building as a Community Training Centre.
The second phase involved the creation of eight semi-independent flats for people with moderate learning disabilities, and an activity and learning centre.
The creation of the new centre is the culmination of The JPK Sussex Project’s vision to create a place where people with moderate to severe learning disabilities leaving full-time education can live independently in the community and gain further training and work experience.
Funds for this third phase of work are coming from the Bradbury Foundation (£200,000), The Veolia Environmental Trust (£99,242 through the Landfill Communities Fund), and the Bernard Sunley Foundation (£25,000). The JPK Sussex Project is also contributing £109,689 from its own fundraising.
Trustee and Project Coordinator Jill Parker MBE said, “We have been planning this project since 2001 and we are so excited that work has already been completed on the pre-building work and that work on the next stage is starting next week.
“We could not have reached this stage without the tremendous support of the local community and our grateful thanks to The Veolia Environmental Trust, The Bradbury Foundation and The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation for their support of the next phase in our development.”
The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Paul Taylor, added, “We support a wide range of community and environmental projects across England and Wales. It is great to hear that this exciting and ambitious one is starting next week. I look forward to hearing how it is taking shape over the coming months.”