National Autistic Society's new HQ building gets under way at Carryduff

Pictured on the site of the National Autistic Society’s planned new centre are (from left) James McAlorum and Uel McKibbin from Saba Investments, Shirelle Stewart and Timothy Glenn, both from the National Autistic Society, and Chris Sweeney (Osborne King)

CONSTRUCTION work is due to begin within weeks on a new purpose-built facility close to Carryduff which the National Autistic Society (NAS) will occupy after its completion in December.

Developers Saba Investments, who own the six-acre site adjacent to Eastbank House, off the Eastbank Road, are undertaking the 12,000 sq ft new build, which has been designed specifically to meet the growing needs of NAS, which is relocating from its existing premises on Belfast's Malone Road.

The facility is the first of its type in Northern Ireland and aims primarily to offer a seven-day year-round service provision for adults with autism and very complex needs and will also offer family support, educational and training programmes, programmes for children and young people with autism in addition to social activities and events.

The new building will also act as the charity's Northern Ireland headquarters and accommodate staff who work across the region to provide information and support where needed.

Key features of the new build will include a well-being suite, a life skills kitchen and training suite, sensory rooms, a resource and training room, a number of activity rooms, a training/conference room and a sensory garden. There will also be ample car parking adjacent to the building.

Chris Sweeney from letting agents Osborne King said: “Out- of-town new builds are something of a rarity at the moment in Northern Ireland, therefore it is extremely gratifying to see a project such as this start to take shape.

"Identifying and sourcing a suitable property solution for the National Autistic Society was challenging and took some time,but we are delighted this new facility will be up and running by the end of the year, allowing NAS to promote and expand its services not just within the greater Belfast area but also across Northern Ireland.”

Shirelle Stewart, NAS NI's director, added: “We are absolutely delighted that the build has started on our new autism centre which will cater for the needs of everyone across the autism spectrum and their families.

"The centre has been designed with the interests and needs of people with autism at its heart; it will be modern, welcoming, and provide new technology that is specifically designed to benefit autistic people. We would like to thank everyone involved who is helping to raise vital funds for this innovative project and for making our vision a reality.”

Uel McKibbin from Saba Investments said: "We're thrilled to be beginning this new phase for NAS. Our existing adjacent development McKibbin House of 32,000sqft is now 95 per cent let. This will be a catalyst for further bespoke design and build opportunities on the lands.”

The NAS has acquired the building on a 15-year lease and anticipates creating up to 18 new jobs over the next three years.

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