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Plans for £1.5million West Wickham children's centre

Peter Knowles

Peter Knowles

Archant

Parents and youth groups are thrilled with £1.5million plans bringing all children's services under one roof for the first time ever in an ambitious refurbishment project.

The Hawes Down project in Hawes Lane, West Wickham, would consolidate Bromley Youth Service, a family centre for under-fives and specialist disabled unit for young people aged up to 19.

The formula of combining resources was tried and tested with the national award-winning Phoenix Centre, located at the same site, but that only deals with children aged under-five and Bromley council admits there was until now a lack of services for older children, especially those with disabilities.

Parent Peter Knowles, 58, whose 11-year-old son Oliver suffers from blindness and cerebral palsy said: “It looks absolutely super. There is so much on offer. We’ll get a chance for our children to mix with non disabled children. It looks like a very positive step.”

Mr Knowles is the chair of Bromley Parent Voice, a group for people with disabled children. He added: “There are 4,000 families in Bromley who have disabled children. On paper it looks brilliant- it’s massive and there are so many suggestions for how it could be used.”

Possibilities for the centre include training rooms for parenting, post natal and young mum groups as well as breakfast and after-schools clubs and creches. Other proposals are multi-sensory rooms and therapists on hand to offer one-to-one help to disabled youngsters.

Funding will come from a co-location grant, awarded over two years ago by what was then the Department for Children, Schools and Families and a mixture of other money from Bromley council. It is hoped the project will be completed next year.

Assistant director of Bromley council, Karen Fletcher, said: “It’s fair to say that there was a lack of provision for older children because the Phoenix Centre only caters for under-fives. Because the Phoenix Centre was so successful we have parents saying ‘well what now?’. We have something so good for very young children and now we hope we can extend that.

“The fact that you’re going to have services for non disabled and disabled children in one place will ease the pressure on families instead of having to go to separate centres.”

There is currently a consultation under way into the project. To find out more and to give views contact hawesdownproject@bromley.gov.uk or write to Richard Hall, 3rd floor Bromley library, High Street, BR1 1EX.

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