AMBITIOUS plans to build a £3.4m respite centre to cater for hundreds of local families have been given the go-ahead.
Planners at Havant Borough Council have given the green light to plans to build the state-of-the-art facility next to Rachel Madocks School, off Eagle Avenue, Cowplain.
As reported in The News, the plans were submitted by Smile Support and Care, a charity based in Eastleigh which provides help to families with disabled children.
The centre, on land once occupied by the Woodlands Education Centre, is set to provide a place for families with disabled children to enjoy a short break with all the support they need.
Staff will offer round-the-clock professional support for families with varying needs, including the most severely disabled children.
The facility will feature eight en-suite bedrooms, as well as two family apartments, a large dining room, recreational, sensory and games rooms, a physiotherapy and treatment space, and specially planted gardens to encourage sensory stimulation.
Achieving planning permission is the first major step to getting the centre built.
Now the charity has to raise the millions of pounds to make it a reality.
Stuart Baldwin, chief executive of Smile Support and Care, said: ‘Receiving planning permission for our proposed centre, represents the first step in realising our aim of catering for disabled young people, who often find it impossible to enjoy a break away.
‘Our aim now is to raise the funds needed to officially start the project and make breaks at the centre a reality for many across Hampshire and West Sussex.’
The appeal to raise the £3.4m was launched in October to coincide with the charity’s 18th anniversary.
Basepoint, with business centres in Havant, Waterlooville and Gosport, has already pledged its support by adopting Smile Support and Care as its charity of the year.
Mr Baldwin added: ‘To achieve our goal of building the proposed centre we need to raise £3.4m and are appealing for help from individuals and local businesses to support us in our fundraising efforts.’
Included in the plans are a number of features to help the environment.
The charity hopes to meet 80 per cent of the centre’s heating needs with a ground source heat pump – while 30 per cent of the building’s lighting will be supplied by solar panels. Around 40 per cent of the water requirements will be met by rainwater harvesting.
If you would like to take part in fundraising for the charity call (023) 8061 6215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate go to smilesupport.org.uk.