Former school ‘has fantastic potential for a youth club’
Published on: 31 Mar 2014
PLANS for young people in Staple Hill to have their own dedicated youth club are moving forward after an inspection of a possible location for the centre.
Council chiefs have visited the old Staple Hill School and believe it has the potential to be converted into a first-rate facility.
Proposals could feature a climbing wall, skate ramps, performance space, homework clubs and a base for young people to set up new businesses.
Other ideas include a youth cafe, computer facilities and music studio.
Funding has already been provisionally approved but the council’s Children and Young People committee will need to give the proposals the final seal of approval.
Taking a keen interest in developments are Staple Hill councillors Shirley Potts and Ian Boulton, who is also chairman of the council.
The pair have been campaigning for years to ensure young people in the area have their own place to socialise and stay safe.
At the moment, youngsters are able to meet at Hebron Methodist Church in the High Street where the Staple Hill Methodist Youth Project has a base.
But although the project is successful, having a purpose built space would allow more scope for offering further facilities.
The old Staple Hill School in Page Road closed in July 2011 and reopened in a new £7million building on the opposite side of the road in September.
The old school’s temporary structures were demolished but the two main Victorian buildings were kept. Although these are currently home to a children’s centre, nursery and temporary primary school pupil referral centre, they have spare rooms which could be utilised.
Cllr Boulton said proposals for a dedicated youth club have gained the support of many local groups and organisations, including the police.
He said: “Whilst funding such a project is fantastic in this day and age, we are not at the finishing post yet. The next stage is to gather the evidence to demonstrate that there is both the need for such a facility and finding the funding to run it and secure its long term viability.
“As the site is in the heart of a cluster of buildings that already have a long tradition of providing services for children and young people we think it will be a wonderful location in the centre our community which would be accessible to so many people.
“The empty school building gives us a unique opportunity to offer a facility to provide for, not only the social needs of our young people, but to provide practical pastoral care which could give them an excellent start to their adult lives.”
Councillor Boulton said the building has a lot of potential.
He said: “There are a number of rooms available which includes the school hall which could be used as a performance space, set up with skate ramps or even be fitted with a climbing wall. There are a couple of classrooms which could host homework clubs, provide computer facilities or even space for young entrepreneurs to use as a base to start new businesses.
There is a room that could be used as a music studio and also a classroom that could host a youth cafe providing a safe environment for young people to gather.”