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Eric Gray Centre on target for 2017

Richard Gibson Architects' photomontage of the new Eric Gray Resource Centre.

PLANS for the new £5.6 million Eric Gray Centre for adults with learning difficulties and complex needs to be built by the summer of 2017 on the Seafield hockey pitch in Lerwick are on track.

A planning application was submitted at the beginning of December with architectural drawings by Richard Gibson Architects, with detailed designs due to be finalised by April.

The council plans to borrow the money to build the new resource centre, and must find £357,000 a year over 25 years to pay off the loan.

It is in the process of looking for “all possible avenues of external funding” to help, and is also planning to save money by getting rid of some posts that are currently unfilled.

The council hopes to be able to tender for the construction work in October, allowing the building to be completed in August 2017.

Capital programme manager Robert Sinclair has warned that the “unusual market conditions” in Shetland at the moment, with so much construction taking place, make it difficult to be certain the centre can be built within the current budget.

Meanwhile an underspend in the community care department has covered this year’s £305,000 administrative costs for the project.

Community health and social care director Simon Bokor Ingram said that the demand for places in the centre would increase in the future with the growing number of people needing support.

An aerial view of the planned centre.

“We have more people coming through from children’s services and people will live for longer with conditions whereas they wouldn’t have in the past so the overall number of clients we are dealing with is increasing,” he said.