Work starts on £1.7m community hub in Inverclyde

Work starts on £1.7m community hub in Inverclyde

A horticultural charity based in Port Glasgow has broken ground on the start of a £1.7 million community hub development.

Work has started on a new multi-purpose facility for Parklea Branching Out within the organisation’s existing grounds.

The project is being part-funded by Inverclyde Council and the Scottish Government with the local authority also providing support to deliver the hub.

It will feature offices, meeting spaces, accessible toilets and changing rooms, a community café, training facilities and garden retail space.

Improvements are also being made to existing facilities and outdoor areas.

Work is being carried out by main contractor Eycon Ltd and is expected to be finished by winter 2024.

Sharon Gemmell, manager of Parklea Branching Out, said: “We are delighted to have reached this initial stage in the development of our community hub. It has been a team effort with Inverclyde Council, Inch Architecture, and Eycon Ltd, to reach this point and I would like to thank them all for their continued work and cooperation.

“We are really looking forward to seeing our new community hub emerge over the coming months as it’s an exciting project for Parklea and the local community.”

The council supported Parklea Branching Out with a successful bid for £1.1m from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF) in late 2021 to help bring their hub plans to fruition, in addition to other external funds and use of reserves.

Due to rising prices of construction and materials, the cost of the project has gone up and the council stepped in earlier this year to provide an additional £200,000 which is being match-funded by the government. The local authority has set aside a further £50,000 by way of a contingency fund if required.

Councillor Jim Clocherty, Inverclyde Council’s convener of education and communities, said: “It’s a proud moment for everyone associated with Parklea Branching Out to see the dream of a new, purpose-built community facility starting to become a reality. Once completed, what we will have here is a first-class training and social centre for not just Port Glasgow but the whole of Inverclyde.

“Parklea Branching Out has done terrific work for many years, particularly supporting and providing opportunities to young people and adults with additional support needs, and this development will allow them to continue to grow and prosper.”

Planning Minister Joe FitzPatrick commented: “The Scottish Government has invested £1.3 million from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF) to support the development of the Parklea Community Garden Hub.

“We welcome the plan for a space that will provide a wide-range of opportunities for local people, including vulnerable members of the community and those with learning disabilities. The hub will provide important access to greenspace, and facilitate valuable training and employment opportunities. Since 2014, we have funded more than 230 projects, supported thousands of jobs, revived landmark buildings, and created numerous new commercial spaces and community facilities.

“Delivered in partnership with COSLA and local government, the RGCF supports local place-based projects that involve communities, helping to tackle inequalities and deliver inclusive growth across Scotland.”

Parklea Branching Out was established in 1997 and uses horticulture to provide training, work experience, supported employment, and recreational and social facilities for a variety of people, including young people and adults with additional support needs.

The organisation grows fruit, vegetables and plants which they sell to individuals, groups and businesses to support its outreach work.

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