Barrow’s much loved Bram Longstaffe building will take on a new role as a community service hub following the decision today to end nursery school provision on the site.
The nursery closure decision follows a full public consultation, falling pupil numbers and a growing and unsustainable financial deficit.
An analysis of available nursery provision in the area shows that there is sufficient capacity to meet demand in future.
But recognising the importance of the building to the local community, plans are now in motion, as part of the Brilliant Barrow Town Deal project, to turn the site into a community hub offering a range of different services to local people.
Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning, said: “The nursery at Bram Longstaffe has been a feature of the community for a long time, but despite their best efforts it has not been possible to get the nursery to a position where it has a sustainable future.
“This decision opens up the possibility for new and exciting uses for the building that will make a real difference to the community.”
The community hub plans were recently subject of a consultation by the Brilliant Barrow team and the feedback is currently being reviewed.
A community hub offers different services to reflect the needs of individual neighbourhoods and would be run in partnership with communities and local people.
It is anticipated that Cumbria County Council, Barrow Borough Council and health organisations would all deliver some services from the hubs.
The police could also use them as a base for staff where appropriate and for informal engagement with local people.
Community and voluntary groups would be able to run activities and offer support, possibly including childcare provision.
Cllr Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Brilliant Barrow Board Member, said: “This building means so much to local people because of its history and the service it has provided. We absolutely want the building to continue to be of real value to the community and that’s why the Brilliant Barrow initiative is so exciting.
“The hub is one of a number of schemes that we are seeking funding for from the £25m government Town Deal fund, but even if we are not successful the county council is working on plans to ensure it has a sustainable future.
“I understand and share the sadness that people will feel about the closure of the nursery, but we now have an opportunity to look forward and create something new, alongside the community, that will provide real local benefits.”