WARRINGTON’S iconic Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Centre looks set to have a new future – as a centre for children with special educational needs (SEND).
Members of the borough council’s cabinet have agreed to support the proposal which has an estimated cost of £5.4 million.
The plan would not only help meet an increasing demand for services for young people with SEND but also safeguard the future of the building which is currently said to be at “critical risk” because of changes in the services which have historically been provided there.
The Peace Centre is owned by a Trust of the Peace Foundation (The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Trust) and the NSPCC.
But the NSPCC has vacated the building, as has Warrington Youth Club, which will in future operate from the new Youth Zone.
This has adversely affected the financial position of the Peace Foundation, which would remain in the building they co-own as tenants under the new deal.
A report considered by cabinet members, stated that the loss of the Peace Centre would be to the detriment of the residents of Warrington while developing the site for council purposes would benefit young people with SEND and also be beneficial to the wider community.
“The Peace Centre has huge potential therefore the council are proposing to re-purpose the building, invest in it and enhance services for young people with SEND to secure a meaningful future for the building.”
Although the proposal will cost an estimated £5.4 million, this is significantly less than the cost of a new-build centre, which is put at somewhere between £6.9 million and £9.4 million, plus £1 million external work and site acquisition costs.
There is an increasing demand for services for young people with SEND in Warrington meaning the council has had to seek places for them outside the borough. The council’s increasing reliance on out-of-area provision puts considerable financial pressure on budgets and impacts efforts to support young people with strong, local opportunities for learning and development.