Completing the final phase of work at Sense's trailblazing community centre in Selly Oak

Stepnell is completing its final phase of work on national disability charity Sense’s trailblazing community centre in Selly Oak, Birmingham.

Designed by Glenn Howells Architects, the fully-accessible £14 million TouchBase Pears centre in Bristol Road was developed in close consultation with adults and children with disabilities.

It is enabling Sense to deliver specialist services helping people with complex disabilities to learn new skills, build confidence and become more independent. In addition, the centre serves the wider community providing a wide range of welcoming and exciting facilities including a café, performance and exhibition space, business centre, meeting rooms for hire, a library and a sensory garden.

The three-storey 6,500 sq m building opened its doors to the public last autumn and is now undergoing the final touches. Construction director Bill Haynes says: “We’re very proud to have been involved in delivering this fantastic community resource which will play such an important part in people’s lives locally. Our team has derived enormous satisfaction from working on this innovative development.” During the construction programme, the Stepnell team linked up with Sense to offer interactive ‘hard hat’ tours enabling potential users of the new building to explore progress on site and contribute ideas about events and activities they would like to see introduced at the centre.

Sense chief executive Gill Morbey comments: “We have been delighted to work with Stepnell, who have been with us every step of the way. They have welcomed disabled people, really got to know the people we work with, listening and solving problems throughout.

“The public response since we opened the doors to TouchBase Pears has been overwhelming. People are embracing this fantastic asset for Birmingham, which combines specialist support for people with complex disabilities, and wonderful services for the wider community. This is a new way of bringing people together: a hive of activity with so much going on, including arts, sports, library and café. We’re incredibly excited about the future.”



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