Some years ago: Brent teacher unions, Brent Friends of the Earth, Brent Greens and Brent Campaign Against Climate Change fight to keep the WHEEC open
A paper going to the next Brent Cabinet from officers puts forward a cross-council plan that could ensure the future of the Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre after several years of doubt as to its future. Officers deserve credit for an imaginative scheme that could deliver a much enhanced programme and a new building to replace the current classrooms that are well on thew way out. There are more details to come including the future of the chapel, currently leased out, and the specific site of the new building. The papers says the classrooms will be demolished and returned to open space. The £3m capital cost will be funded from the High Needs Capital Grant.
The proposal is part of a Post-16 SEND offer:
It is proposed that the Post-16 Skills Resource Centre operates from two sites. The Welsh Harp Centre would be developed to provide a horticultural facility with work experience and volunteering opportunities. The second site would be based in new facilities on the Airco Close site in Kingsbury, alongside an expansion of the special school provision that is delivered by the Compass Learning Trust. An expansion of special school places had previously been planned at The Village and Woodfield Schools. Use of the Airco Close site would facilitate the Compass Learning Trust developing 14+ pathways to employment for children with SEND. The intention is that the Compass Learning Trust also operates the Horticultural Facility at Welsh Harp to bring cohesion to the offer across the two sites. However, the lease would remain with the Council which would oversee the use of the site by third sector and community organisations, including the Scouts who have shown interest in operating from the site in partnership with the Council.
The detailed proposals for the Welsh Harp:
3.11 The proposed Welsh Harp Horticultural Facility would provide training in horticulture, work experience, periods of volunteering and employment and enterprise development. This facility responds directly to the Borough Plan objectives ‘The Best Start in Life’ and ‘A Healthier Brent’. The proposed facility would also respond to the Council’s Climate Emergency Strategy 2021-2030, as it would provide opportunity for residents to be better connected to nature and enhance green spaces and biodiversity.
3.12 The Welsh Harp Facility would re-provide with input from the third sector the existing Environmental Education Centre that works with schools and volunteers, operating in tandem with the Welsh Harp Joint Consultative Committee and supporting development of a biodiversity centre. The facility would also support pupils from across Brent schools to engage in environmental science. It would also be able to support Brent in Bloom and the delivery of commercial contracts, again increasing the economic activity and visibility of
younger residents with disabilities.
3.13 The Welsh Harp Centre could operate as a training centre for 5 days per week and at weekends and the evenings would open to the public for wider programme of activities including supporting residents to grow their own food and learn about heathy meals alongside wider environmentally based activities.
3.14 The current building is in poor quality and at the end of its lifespan and requires significant capital investment to replace. This proposal would enable the Environmental Education programme to schools to continue to be delivered as part of the wider building use alongside the Post-16 horticultural use. The capital project to replace the building is estimated to cost £3m. This would be funded from the SEND Capital Grant (see below).
3.15 Table 1 below proposes the high-level milestones to deliver the Welsh Harp new building. More detail will be included in the capital project business case for the project.
3.16 As a revenue invest to save proposal, the Welsh Harp Centre would provide activities focused on contributing towards the following objectives, with funding allocated to activities that would directly impact on outcomes for Brent residents that can be tracked and reported on annually:
a) Independent life and work skills training and support for the post-16 SEND population resulting in a reduction in HNB expenditure through, for example, a reduction in the number of EHCPs that are maintained as young people receive training that helps them to secure employment.
b) the Public Health Outcomes Framework, and in particular indicators that improve the wider determinants of health / health inequalities, for example increasing employment opportunities for young adults with learning disabilities, addressing social isolation and loneliness and supporting the wider public to make healthy lifestyle choices. These indicators would be measured for young people and adults accessing the Centre.
c) Adult Social Care measures, specifically the proportion of adults with a learning disability in paid employment, the proportion of people with a learning disability living in their own home or with family and the proportion of people who use services who have control over their daily life.
d) NHSE outcomes including the employment of people with long-term conditions or who feel supported to manage their condition and the NHS Learning Disability and ASD long term plan.