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Bid to convert Newry shops to ‘opportunity centre’ for people with learning disabilities

Development plan latest undertaking by SPACE

A day opportunity centre for people with learning disabilities could be opened in Newry city centre.

Planning approval is being sought to convert two vacant shop units at Marcus Street to provide the facility.

The applicant behind the scheme is SPACE, which was originally founded in Warrenpoint 14 years ago before establishing its headquarters at Monaghan Street in Newry.

SPACE, which has charitable status, began life as the South Down Family Health Initiative.

According to its role, it works closely with other charity and voluntary organisations and statutory services, which includes GPs, health visitors, social services, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and schools, as it aims to “represent and influence change on behalf of our communities, whilst supporting families and individuals to improve their health and wellbeing”.

SPACE stands for Supporting People and Communities Everyday. It says its work can be “very practical” – providing help with transport, homework clubs, parenting programmes, practical help with childcare/household management – or may involve a range of more complex help where situations are more challenging.

The charity – which also has a base in Kilkeel – has applied for approval for the new development in Newry.

An application has been submitted to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council for a change of use from a shop unit at 7 Marcus Street, “with reduced shop area and new staff room area at 5 Marcus Street Newry with minor internal alterations”.

The premises are intended to be “used as a day opportunity centre for people with learning difficulties and for occasional use by the public sector community”.

The proposal will be advertised shortly and decision expected in the coming months.

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