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Stepnell starts Selly Oak deafblind centre

11 Mar 16 Deafblind charity Sense has given Stepnell a £9.2m contract to build its new TouchBase Pears centre in Selly Oak, Birmingham.

Artist’s impression of the new TouchBase Pears centre, courtesy of Glenn Howells Architects
Artist’s impression of the new TouchBase Pears centre, courtesy of Glenn Howells Architects

The new 6,500 m2, three-storey centre will provide a base for the charity to deliver specialist services to help people with sensory impairments. TouchBase Pears will also house an arts and performance area, gallery, nursery and public café.

Construction work has just started and completion is expected in summer 2017. The overall cost of construction is expected to be £14m, of which the charity has a fundraising target of £5m.

The building has been designed by Glenn Howells Architects in consultation with children and adults with a range of disabilities to ensure it meets their needs. For example, differing floor surfaces will help people with visual impairments identify different areas in the building.

Sense chief executive Gillian Morbey says: “We are delighted that construction for this major new centre is under way and that we are one step closer to delivering a resource to the Midlands that will not just benefit people with sensory impairments but will also be a hub for the wider community. The TouchBase Pears centre will make a huge difference to many people’s lives and we can’t wait to open the doors next year.”

Stepnell construction director Bill Haynes says:  “We are extremely pleased to be bringing our construction expertise and extensive experience in delivering high-performance buildings to this landmark project for Sense. TouchBase Pears will provide vital services for disabled people and the wider community in the West Midlands, offering a wide range of fully accessible facilities.”

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