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Refurbishment Of The Priory Neighbourhood Centre Nearing Completion

The eagerly awaited refurbishment of the Priory Neighbourhood Centre at Ore Valley, Hastings, is nearing completion and one of the most challenging final touches has been the installation of its "sedum" roof.

Expert builders have finished laying the new roof, which is made of sedum plants and timber from a sustainable source in accordance with the environmentally-friendly design principles behind the transformation of the entire building.

The 67ha Ore Valley site is part of Hastings Millennium Community, a joint project between English Partnerships, Hastings Borough Council and locally established regeneration company Sea Space. It is one of just seven Millennium Communities managed by English Partnerships, the national regeneration agency, across the country. English Partnerships has contributed over £1m to the redevelopment of the "Bridge" (the new name for the centre) as part of its commitment to the provision of community facilities on the site.

Funding has also been received from the European Regional Development Fund and Sure Start Ore Valley. Hastings Trust is currently holding the building on behalf of the community and will hand it back in 2006. The community steering group decided it was time for a name-change for their new-look building. Accessibility is such a prominent feature of the community centre’s design that it has appropriately been renamed the "Bridge".

Inspired by the installation of a bridge entrance scheduled for later this month, the name demonstrates that the new centre will be open to all residents of Ore Valley, regardless of age or ability. The new centre will house an internet café, crèche, offices and a multi-purpose space and is likely to be open to the public by January 2006. The roof of the Bridge will also include special solar panels to help heat the building and produce electricity that will contribute to its energy efficiency.

Duncan Innes, English Partnerships’ Regional Director, Southern England, said, "It’s great to reach these final stages and see the building really beginning to take shape. The Bridge will provide much-needed services for local people and this innovative, high-quality facility will help to put the Ore Valley firmly on the map. "The reconstruction of the centre, which demonstrates our approach to sustainable development, is a credit to the hard work and determination of the local community who will be able to meet, work and relax in a stunning building that minimises the impact on the environment."

Pauline Hyland, member of the Executive Committee that raised the money for the new centre, said, "We're calling it the Bridge because that's how you get in, you can go from the road straight over a bridge into the building. But my favourite part is the roof, it changes colour with the seasons."

James Leathers who works for Hastings Trust added, "This is what I think regeneration is all about – small steps that have big impacts long into the future. It's not glamorous, but thanks to English Partnerships’ funding, in this case the building is spectacular. For once being green looks like the smartest design in town."

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