Getting the best start in life
4 April 2006
The successful design of Sure Start Children's Centres requires an imaginative use of resources by the architect and building contractors.
The government has published its ten-year action plan to transform childcare, early years and extended schools services.
The benefits of Sure Start will be available to 650,000 under-fives. Sure Start Children's Centres provide nursery services integrated with health and social care and after-school groups. They support parents in working for training.
CABE helped develop a number of children's centres in the first phase. Because there is less funding for the new building phase, which will deliver 1,000 centres by 2008, it is more essential than ever that those who work in them take a strong lead in their design.
Well-designed children's centres depend on the imaginative use of resources by the architect and building contractors. The children's centres which CABE has helped (see below) are funded by either Sure Start Capital or Sure Start local programmes or as part of the government's Neighbourhood Nurseries initiative.
Beaumont Leys, Leicester
- Architect: Groundworks architects
- Completed in 2002
- Contract value £1.05m
This Sure Start complex forms part of a 1970s pedestrian retail and local centre in a deprived social housing area of Leicester. It was created from refurbished historic buildings and a new single storey addition.
Sure Start on the ocean, Tower Hamlets, London
- Architect: muf architecture art
- Completed 2001
- Contract value £110,000
This Sure Start is a refurbishment of existing retail units to form a sessional crèche and community support facility.
Queens Road community centre, London E17
- Architect: Greenhill Jenner architects
- Completed 2004
- Contract value £1.5m
Adjacent to existing primary school in Walthamstow, this Sure Start centre forms a key community venue. It accommodates a 36 place nursery, a crèche with up to 20 places and a 40 to 50 place after school club. It also serves as a drop-in centre for when parents are on training. There is a drop-in Clinic, Municipal Hall, IT and Adult Learning Centre.
Hoyle early years centre, Bury
- Architect: DSHDA Architects
- Completed 2003
The award winning Hoyle early years centre in Bury for children with special educational needs has brought innovative thinking to the table in the design of facilities where children can learn and think. The building reconnects the nursery to the community by creating new frontage onto the local park and a new view corridor through the building.
First start nursery, Firth Park, Sheffield
- Panter Hudspith architects
- Completed 2004
First Start, set in a Victorian park on the outskirts of Sheffield, has made a genuine contribution to the regeneration of the park and the surrounding area. The nursery complex includes a crèche, café and community facilities. Through its imaginative design and careful site planning, it is both sensitive to the setting of the park and the local environment.
What CABE is doing
CABE is continuing in its role to support the government's Sure Start programme, working on a variety of late phase one and two projects at the moment. Phase two will see us help more local authorities delivering these centres and we will be producing design guidance on achieving good quality early years settings with limited capital. CABE will also be undertaking post occupancy evaluation.