Council agrees £300,000 worth of urgent works at autism centre

NBENLM110416F2 - Holbrook centre for Autism
NBENLM110416F2 - Holbrook centre for Autism

A specialist school for young people with autism is to receive more than £300,000 worth of improvements after Derbyshire Council Council approved funding.

Holbrook Centre for Autism was awarded the cash for refurbishments and re-wiring works by the authority.

Councillors heard that the main listed building in which lessons are held required “urgent” attention.

Since opening in 1997, when there were ten pupils on roll, the centre now caters for more than 60 students at the former Southwood House – which was built by Bourne family, who owned Denby Pottery in the 1880s.

The expansion has led to a former caretaker’s bungalow in the grounds being used more intensively and the council allocated £25,000 towards the improvement of that building as part of an overall award.

Derbyshire county councillor for Holbrook Greg MacDonald said: “This is absolutely splendid news – the centre does a good job and really does deserve this money.

“I’m very supportive of this and the whole idea of getting these young people together.

“With today’s modern medicine and methods of assessment more people are recognised as having autism earlier and we need to make sure facilities such as this are properly funded.

“The fact that this money is being used to preserve a listed building, which obviously needed some attention, as well as providing facilities for the students at the centre is a double bonus.”

The money was awarded from a £1.4 million educational capital funding pot which the council uses to fund maintenance works at schools across the county.

The Holbrook Centre would normally have been asked to contribute £5,856 towards the total cost of the project.

However, headteacher Fenella Dowler asked if that money could be retained by the school and used to carry out additional refurbishment works in the toilet areas, as well as redecoration following the rewiring project.

Councillors approved the request after council officers said they were in favour due to the link between the projects.

Elsewhere, the cabinet also awarded Whitemoor Adult Care Centre in Belper £2,500 for an extra toilet.