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Plans unveiled for learning disability hub

A planning application has been submitted for a new sustainable and inclusive Adult Learning Disability Hub in Inverclyde.

Designed jointly by architects at Holmes Miller and Inverclyde Council, working in partnership with hub West Scotland, the £10m facility will be located in Brachelston Street on the site of the former Hector McNeil Memorial Swimming Baths. It will replace the current Fitzgerald Centre in Greenock and will provide daycare facilities and enhanced learning activity spaces for up to 50 adults with learning and physical disabilities. If planning permission is granted, construction of the centre is expected to start on site this summer. To deliver on Inverclyde Council’s net-zero carbon aspirations, a ‘fabric first’ approach to design has been adopted for the centre, which will result in an efficient and low-energy building. Carbon emissions will also be offset by a large array of roof-mounted solar photovoltaic panels. And, while the exterior design draws inspiration from Greenock’s famous Sugar Sheds, the internal layout has been developed through extensive consultation with senior managers, the health and social care partnership, service users, and their families.

The aim is to provide an enhanced sensory experience for users with complex needs, such as autism, dementia, visual and perceptual impairments, and physical and sensory disabilities. Careful consideration has been given to materials, texture, colour, and acoustics and landscaping around the facility will build on the existing natural characteristics of the prominent site and complement the sympathetic nature of the building. Nada Shehab, project architect at Holmes Miller, said: “Our designs are for a building with a human scale and a modern distinctive character that takes subtle inspiration from prominent Greenock architecture. “It has been great working with a strong client group that has a clear vision of how good design can improve the lives and experiences of their service users and their community, both now and in the future.”

Councillor Martin McCluskey, vice-convener of Inverclyde Council’s social care and social work scrutiny panel, added: “We promised people with learning disabilities and their families that the council would deliver a modern, state-of-the-art centre for them and their families and it is an exciting moment to get to the stage where we can start to see how this facility for the people of Inverclyde could look. “A great deal of effort has gone into getting us to this stage and while we await the outcome of the planning application, we can still celebrate this significant milestone as another major step towards delivering a new, state-of-the-art learning disability hub for the people of Inverclyde.”

The project team for the new building also includes McLaughlin & Harvey as main contractor; Harley Haddow as civil and structural engineers; Davie & McCulloch as mechanical and electrical engineers; and Brown & Wallace as cost consultant. Iain Marley, chief executive of hub West Scotland, said: “The project team has been working closely with the council and the health and social care partnership to develop a great design which addresses the needs and aspirations of the service users and also incorporates a fresh, calm and welcoming environment for all building users.”

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