BUILDING work has finally begun on a long-awaited youth centre – more than 10 months after planning permission was approved.
Yesterday, the first earth was turned at the Stowmarket site where the £5 million state-of-the-art youth facility will stand.
The Mix, a multi-purpose centre in Ipswich Street, will provide a safe environment for young people aged between 11 and 19, as well as offering a range of facilities and services.
The future of the project, which secured financial backing from the national MyPlace scheme with a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, looked uncertain last year as Government cuts threatened the project’s funding. But in December 2010 the Department for Education confirmed that The Mix would go ahead.
A group of Stowmarket High School students joined Cllr Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for children, schools and young people’s services, at the site yesterday to mark the start of work on The Mix.
Adri van der Colff, The Mix project manager, said: “It is a special day for me and the rest of the team to see this project finally coming off the ground and I look forward to seeing the new building take shape over the coming year.
“I am particularly pleased for the young people of Stowmarket that they will soon have a place of their own to explore their talents and hang out with their friends.”
The centre, being built by Barnes Construction, will give young people access to specialist support and advice and will also include a housing unit to provide short-term emergency accommodation.
The building will also house digital studios, a café, a performance and sports hall, and computer suites.
Young people from the area have been actively involved in the process of designing the building and choosing what facilities would be available.
Cllr Newman said: “It was important to us that the young people who would be using the centre would be able to get involved in the project. It has been a real privilege to see their enthusiasm and drive and hear the valuable contribution that they have made.”
The centre is expected to open late next year.