Construction of the new £12m Sparkbrook Community and Health Centre has begun and once finished the building will house both NHS and Council services under one roof.
And to mark the occasion partners from Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust (HoBtPCT), Birmingham City Council, BaS LIFT, Prime plc, Councillor Paul Tilsley - Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Mohammed Ishtiaq, Councillor Salma Yaqoob, Councillor Jerry Evans, Dr Ramaroa, Dr Ahmed, Dr Malek and patient representatives visited the construction site to view the build in progress.
The new innovative building will be based at the cross roads of Grantham Road, Dolobran Road, Farm Road and Sampson Road, and will form two sites overlooking Farm Park; one housing the Community and Primary Care Centre and the other a church hall.
The three-storey community and healthcare centre on Grantham Road and Dolobran Road, (formerly the site of the Victorian built Christ Church, which was badly damaged in the tornado in July 2005) will accommodate services currently offered by Farm Road Health Centre including dental services, baby clinics and stop smoking clinics, with new services such as physiotherapy, healthy young people services and a size down weight loss group. This is as well as three GP practices, nursing, physiotherapy, dental services and a pharmacy.
The facility's other wing, opposite Farm Park, will accommodate one of Birmingham City Council's new Customer Service Centres, replacing existing temporary accommodation in Mole Street as part of the Customer First Business Transformation programme. Four rooms, three of which can be opened up to create a larger space, will also be available for community use and events - these rooms will replace services currently offered by the Sparkbrook Family Centre.
In addition, the centre will offer six offices for start-up social enterprises or businesses that could potentially benefit the local community. A secure garden to the rear of the centre will also be available to community room users, while the concourse area at the building's entrance will act as both a waiting area for patients and a community library.
On the other site just a few metres away fronting Farm Road and Sampson Road (currently occupied by Sparkbrook Family Centre and Farm Road Health Centre) a 400m2 church hall will offer space to worship, rooms for general community use and a café. Car parking for all users will be provided over both sites and linked via an improved road junction and park entrance.
Designed in consultation with the public, patients and staff by healthcare building specialists One Creative Environments Ltd, the main centre takes an 'L' shape to fit its corner position. Facing the crossroads, the entrance has a contemporary tilted roof, supported by steel pillars and features a submerged area beneath which is a semi-mature tree. The use of terracotta red brick to form windowed panels on the building's façade helps to harmonise the centre with the Victorian built residential homes on the street.
In keeping with traditional church design, the church hall is given height with a one sided, pitched roof clad in zinc, while coloured glass, evocative of stained glass, runs across the bottom of its high, first-storey windows. The use of white render and red brick, which features on the ground floor, helps the church hall fit in with existing local buildings.
As well as contributing significantly to the regeneration of the Sparkbrook area, this new community hub will also be environmentally friendly by achieving a BREEAM excellent rating.
Dr Ahmed, Dr Ramaoro, Dr Malek and Dr Chunduri from Farm Road Health Centre said: "We were delighted to attend the turf cutting event and to see the investment in local primary health and community facilities for Sparkbrook coming into fruition. We are looking forward to being able to provide the same high level of care to our patient's in an environment which will meet their healthcare needs both now and in the future."
Ranjit Sondhi, Chairman at HoBtPCT, said: "We are thrilled that building work has begun for this unique health and community centre which will be a shining example of partnership working. By offering a wide range of health, council and community services in one area, closer to patients' homes, we can better ensure that the health needs of local residents are met."
Councillor Paul Tilsley - Deputy Leader said: "By working together with partners and the local community we have created a centre that will be a hub of activity for Sparkbrook. Being able to access many different services under one roof will be of great benefit to many residents and will prove to be a real investment into the current and future needs of local people."
John Taylor, Chairman of BaS LIFT, said: "Through LIFT we have been able to help the Primary Care Trust and Birmingham City Council create a new breed of community and health centres. The development in Sparkbrook demonstrates that a wide range of services can be integrated into one scheme that supports both people's health and social needs."
Reverend Steve Simcox from the Diocese of Birmingham, said: "The new Church Hall will offer local residents a warm and inviting place to take part in worship, community activities or simply enjoy a cup of tea with friends. The church community is looking forward to working with the other partners to develop the centre into a thriving part of the local area."
Ewan Forsyth, Development Director at Prime (UK) Developments, commented: "By working closely with our project partners and thinking imaginatively, we have created a scheme that meets the varied needs of the local community. We will now start construction with an anticipated completion in late 2011. The centre will undoubtedly be a template for how public bodies can all work together for the benefit of the community."
Guy Nicholls, designer at One Creative Environments Ltd, added: "This has been a challenging and exciting project to work on. The new centre's efficient, contemporary design will accommodate a very diverse range of services and facilities, and create a community hub for the people of Sparkbrook."
For further information please contact Birmingham and Solihull LIFTCo