Sheppard House can now expand

Sheppard House Day Centre in Newent has gained planning permission for the first stage of a major programme of expansion.

Forest of Dean District Council has just approved plans for two assisted bathrooms, a new car park, disabled toilets, changing rooms and treatment rooms, including space for chiropody and hairdressing.

All this will be housed in a new block built onto the existing building, on what is now currently the centre's car park.

A new car park will be built, as part of planning conditions, on land adjoining the site.

For Colin Chave, chairman of the Newent Association for the Disabled, the development could be only one part of an ambitious enhancement of the centre, which currently benefits 200 elderly and disabled people every week.

Presently Sheppard House is non-residential but Mr Chave said: "I personally would be pleased to see respite care units being developed in the near future."

He explained that the units would benefit not only elderly or disabled people, but also home carers. It would allow them short breaks away from their daily duties, while those they care for are looked after at Sheppard House.

Firstly, Sheppard House must find the money for its approved extension, which Mr Chave said he would like to see completed by the end of the year. The total cost is still to be fully assessed, but this must be done in advance of a forthcoming bid for National Lottery funds.

Mr Chave revealed that the association already has £60,000 in its coffers specifically towards the bathhouse project.

Much of the money, raised over the last three years, has come from public donations with other funds provided by the Newent Charity Shop.

The new block will contain two electronically operated baths that can be adjusted for individual needs and offer automatic temperature settings.

The facility will be operated by properly trained nurses. Slats in the baths will be raised or lowered to suit individual requirements, and a hoist arrangement will help people to get in and out.