Thursday, September 17, 2015

"Re-development of the former Rosebank Church building will not be completed" - "costs spiralled out of control"

The Gurn has received the following press release from 1st Steps Childcare Nairn Limited:

1st Steps Childcare Nairn is extremely disappointed to inform parents, carers and the wider community that the re-development of the former Rosebank Church building will not be completed.

In July last year, we agreed heads of terms with the owner of the former Rosebank Church, Sheridan Macrae to re-develop the building into a high quality child care facility which we were to lease on a  long-term basis. Work on site commenced in the Autumn, and we received planning permission in December.

Local residents will have observed the impressive scaffolding which has been erected and progress with cleaning up the facades and masonry, as well as the construction of the new roof including supporting trusses. They may also have noticed that the work on site has stalled since early August.

Old Rosebank Church Building, 04 August 2015,  image Greg Riddle.
Meanwhile we have been working hard to increase the customer base of the existing business and generate interest in the new places that would have become available to ensure that the busines swould be successful and sustainable in the long term.

It is now painfully apparent that the programme and budget for delivery of the project were significantly short of what was required.

Due to the poor structural condition of the existing building, and restrictions on construction methods and materials arising from its Listed status, costs have spiralled out of control. The final nail in the coffin was a valuation carried out last month which valued the building at several hundred thousand pounds less than has been spent on the re-development to date. As a result the building’s owner is unable to obtain the funds needed to complete the development.

We have maintained our commitment to delivering this project to through some tough times over the last few months, missing several key programme dates, agreeing to a massive increase in rent and making several offers of an up-front financial contribution. Following a comprehensive review of the financial situation and business case we now have no option but to abandon the project.

The existing the 1st Steps Nursery, currently based in temporary buildings leased from Highland Council within the grounds of Rosebank Primary School, has for the last two years faced the threat of closure to allow for expansion of the school, and the Education Department have up to now been willing to extend our lease on a short-term basis whilst the re-development has been in progress.

Initial discussions with the Education Department have been positive and we will be able to remain in our current premises until the summer of 2016.

There is a demand for high quality child care in Nairn which is both affordable and flexible, which is set to increase due to Scottish Government policies on the provision of free pre-school education, both in terms of increasing the hours per week, and extending the current scheme to include 2 year olds.

The Directors of 1st Steps Childcare Nairn Limited have been working individually with various parties since 2009 and collectively since October 2013 to identify and secure suitable child care premises for an expanded child care provision including out-of-school care, and a specialist unit for children under 2 years old which is not currently available in the town. The existing premises are operating at capacity and there is a waiting list for new places.

Roslin Murdoch, Director of the Company and owner of the existing nursery, said:

“We are very disappointed that the project has had to be abandoned. Sarah, Greg and I have all put a considerable amount of time, effort and energy into this development. We are concerned about the future in the long term, both for the business and for the parents and carers who rely on us to care for their children. Highland Council has continued to give us their support, and agreed that we
can remain in our existing premises whilst we put together a “Plan B”.

We will have to start looking for new premises all over again, and will be speaking to Highland Council, our Councillors, HIE and other agencies to explore all the options. We would also appeal to the local community, businesses, developers and other organisations that may be able to help.”

The Directors of 1st Steps Childcare Nairn Limited are local people who grew up in the area and are raising their own children in the town.

Roslin Murdoch has been the owner of the existing 1st Steps Nursery for over 10 years, and was heavily involved in organising the highly successful Ramage Jazz festival which ran for more than two decades until 2009.

She is supported by fellow Directors Sarah and Greg Riddle, who returned to Nairn in 2008. Sarah has a successful track record in business whilst Greg Riddle has worked in the construction industry for many years. They jointly own and run a consultancy business and have an interest in a bar and restaurant operating company.

UPDATE: Reaction from Drew Hendry MP:

"I think everyone was looking forward to seeing the Rosebank church building operational again and we were watching with interest as work progressed, so this news is the last thing we would all want to hear. I understand that the council are cooperating with 1st Steps Childcare ltd to ensure that they can continue to provide local childcare and that is to be welcomed. I will offer to meet with 1st Steps to see how I can help and with local councillors and local MSP Fergus Ewing to examine how we can work together to determine both a secure future for 1st steps childcare and a future use for the building"

1 comment:

Graisg said...

@ Bob from Bobville, thank you for that but we have decided not to publish