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Planned centre for young people with complex needs in the Highlands set to receive £250k injection

By Val Sweeney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Haven Centre.
An artist's impression of the proposed Haven Centre.

Ambitious plans to develop Scotland’s first integrated centre for young people with learning disabilities and complex needs are set to take another step forward with Highland councillors expected to release £250,000 funding.

The Haven Centre, to be built in Inverness, will comprise three two-bedroom respite flats, a community café, outdoor and indoor play centre with childcare facilities and several meeting spaces.

After the Scottish Government announced in March it was awarding £1.7 million, the project – led by the Elsie Normington Foundation – had secured full funding towards the estimated £4.1 million capital cost.

The council’s corporate resources committee, which meets on Wednesday, is now being recommended to release £250,000 previously pledged from the capital discretionary fund.

It also comes as plans for the project at a derelict site in Murray Road, Smithton, have been revised.

Originally, the council planned to build eight supported homes at the site but they will now be built elsewhere to enable the centre to achieve its full potential.

A report to go to the corporate resources committee states: "The council’s capital contribution would contribute to the creation of new provision at the Haven Centre and have a positive impact for children and young adults with multiple disabilities and complex needs.

"While Inverness based, the expectation is that the facilities on offer, including respite provision, would attract use by families from across the wider Highland area.

"In relation to economic and employment impacts, the business case indicates the project will create 52 jobs during construction phase, and 19 full-time and 11 part-time through the centre.

"Further volunteering, training and work placement opportunities are also expected."

The site, once occupied by the former Culloden Court Care Home, is owned by the council.

Previously, it agreed to sell part of the site to the Elsie Normington Foundation for the centre and respite units while it planned to build eight flats on the rest of the site.

A council spokeswoman said a request from the foundation to buy the whole site for it to be developed to fully fulfil its potential had been agreed.

She said: "Since purchasing the former nursing home site, the council has acquired land at Stratton part of which is being developed to provide the eight homes which would have been provided on the Culloden nursing home site."

Related story: Scottish Government approves £1.75m funding to support Haven Centre

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