Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Plans submitted for new youth centre for Romsey

Monday, 18 August 2014

Subject to planning permission being granted, Romsey young people are set for a brand new youth centre located at the Romsey Sports Centre, thanks to a joint initiative by Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council.

An application for planning permission has been submitted by Hampshire County Council.

Youth in Romsey have operated for many years in upstairs premises above a shop in Bell Street but this has long been considered, not least by Romsey's young people, as a less than desirable location. Not only is there difficult access for any youngsters with disabilities, but loud music much beloved of teenagers is not always appreciated by the neighbours.

In the recent survey at the Romsey Future Event, organised by Test Valley Borough Council, the wish for better youth facilities in the town came second only to a desire to safeguard existing facilities at Romsey Hospital.

Chairman of Youth in Romsey, Councillor Ian Hibberd, who has campaigned hard for a new building said: "This is great news for Romsey's  young people and I am grateful to the Borough and County Councils for helping fund this brilliant project. We have closely consulted the young people on their wishes and this proposal would meet their requirements. Test Valley, as well as contributing funding, are making land available at the Sports Centre, which is an ideal site. It is easily accessible from most parts of the town and close to popular attractions such as The Rapids, the skate park and existing sports facilities, which is good, and would not cause any difficulties with neighbours, because there are none other than the sports clubs.

"There are superb uniformed youth organisations in the town as well as church groups, sports clubs and activities at Romsey and Mountbatten Schools, but it is not all youngsters who want those sorts of activity, and that is where Youth in Romsey has a vital role to play. Thanks to the County and Borough Councils, Romsey's youngsters will soon have a modern facility of their own.

"Youth in Romsey is a charitable organisation, and we rely on volunteers and grants from the Borough and County Council which have funded professional youth workers. I hope the Town Council might also wish to become involved and make a contribution either towards running costs or to the new building, perhaps to help equip it. We look with envy at neighbouring towns such as Totton and Ringwood, where there is great support from their town councils."

Hampshire County Council Leader, Councillor Roy Perry said: "I earmarked capital money for this project when I was Hampshire's Executive Member for Children's Services. I am very appreciative of the good work Youth in Romsey do, and was aware of the problems they faced with their accommodation in Bell Street.

"I have also been partly involved with the Romsey Future project, spearheaded by Test Valley, and I know the desire expressed by the community for more youth facilities in Romsey. For the County Council, it is easier for us to help with capital funding and we are very keen to support voluntary organisations as the most cost-effective way of delivering youth services. Within the constraints we face, we will try to help as best we can, as we do in many other towns across Hampshire. We certainly prefer to help those communities who make some initiative themselves."

Councillor Tony Ward, Test Valley Borough Council's Community and Leisure Portfolio Holder, said: "This will be fantastic news for young people in Romsey if approved. It is so important that we have somewhere for young people to relax and socialise, as well as receive advice and support. The accommodation in Bell Street simply isn't suitable and a new youth centre would provide an alternative solution to satisfy Youth in Romsey and the local community.

"The Romsey Future initiative has proved invaluable in identifying the issues that matter most to residents, and our work on the project continues apace."

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