New Uttlesford ‘multicentre’ to offer youth and adult education services

Fairycroft House Fairycroft House

Thursday, March 27, 2014
4:17 PM

More people will be able to enjoy adult community education this autumn when the centre moves to a new Saffron Walden ‘multicentre’.

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And there’s also good news in Thaxted where residents will see longer library opening hours.

Saffron Walden is the largest population centre in Uttlesford but there is currently no suitable accommodation for Essex County Council (ECC) to offer daytime adult community learning courses, the authority has said.

Currently these are provided in an extended Georgian town house, Clarance House, in Thaxted, which is unsuitable for modern use and peripheral to the main population.

ECC plan to move the centre to a modern building above the Saffron Walden Resource Centre in Fairycroft Road. The youth service is moving from the Victorian Fairycroft House just across the car park.

Cllr Roger Hirst, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for transformation and corporate services, said: “The current sites are completely unsuitable for modern use with fragile fabric, no lift access and high heating and maintenance costs. In Thaxted teaching accommodation is on two floors and there are disproportionate amounts of non-teaching space.

“We want our buildings to be more flexible so they can adapt to the needs of our residents, which means we plan to move valued services to better facilities where they can flourish and be used by as many people as possible.”

Cllr Ray Gooding, cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, added: “I am delighted learners will have the benefit of a modern, purpose-designed teaching environment.

“The new accommodation will allow us to provide five classrooms suited to the proposed curriculum, potentially rising to six in the future. The building lies close to the town centre and is more visible to the communities using other onsite facilities than the current peripheral location in Thaxted.

“The move is also good news for the youth service too, which will have better quality facilities.”

The dedicated accommodation will form the major part of Saffron Walden ‘multicentre’. There will be more suitable accommodation for the youth service which will include activity areas, a kitchen plus an outdoor area.

In Thaxted, the library is also on the move. When the adult community learning centre relocates to Saffron Walden, the current library will move from Clarance House to Uttlesford District Council’s Information Point in the High Street.

Exact details are still being finalised but new partnership working will allow access to library services to be extended. Thaxted Parish Council also has a dedicated office there.

The move to provide ‘multicentres’ in more modern community premises is designed to make best use of all council buildings and a key part of the authority’s drive to save at least £235 million over the next four years through radically redesigning the way it delivers its services.

Any profits from the sale of buildings which are no longer needed will be reinvested to help support communities in Essex.

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