£12 million community and health centre opens in Sparkbrook

A new £12 million Community and Health Centre has opened in the heart of Sparkbrook, offering integrated health and council services together on one site, and delivering a much greater breadth of health support and community facilities for the local community.

The contemporary three-storey facility is a result of the successful partnership between the Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust (HoBtPCT), Birmingham City Council, The Diocese of Birmingham, Birmingham and Solihull (BaS) LIFT Co and Prime plc, and supports the NHS Right Care Right Here programme.

Situated on the site of the former Victorian built Christ Church which was badly damaged in the July 2005 tornado, the new centre serves a patient population of around 15,000 and accommodates three GP practices and services which were previously delivered by Farm Road Health Centre, including community dental services, baby clinics and stop smoking clinics. New services include physiotherapy, healthy young people services and a Health Exchange area.

The centre will also be home to Birmingham City Council’s new generation of Customer Service Centres, part of the Customer First programme, and replaces temporary accommodation in Mole Street, providing access to council services including issues relating to accommodation and money advice. There are also four rooms available for community use and events, three of which can be opened up to create a larger space. These rooms will house services currently offered by the Sparkbrook Family Centre.

The centre was officially opened by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Anita Ward, Denise McLellan, Chief Executive of Birmingham & Solihull NHS, Cllr Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council and Ann Pursey, Chief Executive of BaS LIFT.

Denise McLellan, Chief Executive of Birmingham & Solihull NHS said: “We are delighted Sparkbrook Health and Community Centre is now open and offering local residents access to a wide range of health and community services under one roof. By working in partnership with the local community and the Local Authority, we have created a unique centre that brings health services closer to patient’s homes and will ensure we meet the health needs of today’s residents and future generations.”

In addition, the centre has six offices for start-up social enterprises or businesses that will benefit the local community. A private garden to the rear of the centre is available to community room users, while the concourse area at the building’s entrance acts as both a waiting area for patients and a community library.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “This project is a vital element of the wider regeneration of Sparkbrook and will act as a best practice model for how different parts of the public sector can join together to provide integrated services for the citizens of Birmingham. It will help improve people’s lives and cut out duplication of services, saving the taxpayer money in the process. I've watched the project develop from drawing board to reality, and these are exciting times for the area.”

The second phase of development, which is already underway, will see the construction of a 400m2 church hall fronting Farm Road and Sampson Road. Part of a new generation of community facilities, it will offer space to worship, rooms for general community use and a café.

Ann Pursey, Chief Executive of BaS LIFT Co, said: "Through LIFT we have been able to provide essential investment to support the practical integration of services for the community. Sparkbrook is an important example of how LIFT can work with various stakeholders to deliver a positive community focused facility designed for the future.”

The centre has been designed in consultation with the public, patients and staff by healthcare and community building specialists One Creative Environments Ltd. Facing the crossroads, the entrance has a contemporary tilted roof, supported by steel pillars and features an opening beneath which is a semi-mature tree. The use of terracotta red brick to form windowed panels on the building’s façade helps to harmonise the centre with the Victorian built residential homes on the street.

As well as contributing significantly to the regeneration of the Sparkbrook area and offering a sustainable focal point for the local community, the centre has environmentally friendly features and achieves a BREEAM excellent rating.

Robert Moore from One Creative Environments Ltd, adds: “Sparkbrook is a densely urban area in Birmingham so it was important for us to create a building that would incorporate green space and maximise light for users to enjoy. We’ve worked closely with the community throughout the project and are really pleased with the end result, which we believe is a real community hub which the people of Sparkbrook can be proud of.”