Skip to main content

Autism: Middletown Initiative

Volume 689: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the proposed Middletown Autism initiative in Northern Ireland, how the proposed building complex was acquired; when it was acquired; from whom it was acquired; by whom; what is the physical extent of the property; and what are the total capital and estimated revenue costs to date. [HL1750]

The Middletown Centre for Autism building complex was acquired through a legal conveyancing agreement on 30 June 2004. The site was purchased from the St Louis Order by the Middletown Centre for Autism (Holdings) Limited, a company limited by guarantee, set up with funding from the Department of Education Northern Ireland and the Department of Education and Science, Ireland.

The Middletown Centre for Autism is located in grounds of circa 20 acres, including the former St Joseph's Adolescent Centre, St Louis Primary School, residential accommodation, convent buildings and other ancillary buildings.

The capital costs to date have been £3 million for the purchase of the site, of which DE paid £1.5 million. The estimated capital cost of the refurbishment project is £3.6 million, of which DE will pay half. The project costs for DE from 2002 to date are approximately £0.6 million and the estimated revenue costs of the centre are some £3 million per annum when fully operational, of which DE will pay half. A copy of the purchase agreement was placed in the Library in 2005.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the proposed Middletown Autism initiative; what feasibility study has been undertaken and by whom; and whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the findings and recommendations of the feasibility study. [HL1751]

The proposed Middletown Autism initiative is to develop a centre of excellence in Middletown, Co. Armagh for the education of children and young people with autism. The development of the centre is being taken forward by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Department of Education and Science, Ireland. The centre will offer the following services: an educational assessment service, a learning support service, a training and advisory service and a research, dissemination and information service.

The following feasibility studies have been undertaken: an initial economic appraisal for the Department of Education's joint purchase of the site through executive programme funds in 2001, completed by the Department of Education's economic advisory unit; a building masterplan for the site completed in 2006 on behalf of the Department of Education and the Department of Education and Science by Anthony Reddy Associates; and a review of the original economic appraisal completed by the Department of Education's special education branch in conjunction with the economic advisory unit. This review examined the feasibility of the Middletown site taking account of the recommendations in the building masterplan; and examined the ownership and management of the centre. A copy of the 2001 economic appraisal had previously been placed in the Library and a copy of the 2006 economic appraisal has been placed in the Library.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the proposed Middletown Autism initiative relates directly to the physical extent of the Middletown base. [HL1752]

The centre of excellence for the education of children and young people with autism in Middletown will provide services to schools, teachers and parents throughout Northern Ireland and Ireland. Its services will not be restricted to the Middletown area. Parents and children will be able to access the educational assessment and learning support services, irrespective of their home location. Similarly schools, teachers and others working in the education of children and young people with autism will be able to access the training and advisory, and research and information services throughout Northern Ireland and Ireland.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many children, living within a 10-mile radius of the proposed Middletown Autism Centre, have been assessed as having autistic syndrome disorder. [HL1754]

There are 33 children within a 10-mile radius of the proposed Middletown Centre for Autism who have had a health assessment of autism. There are 67 children with an educational assessment of autism attending schools which are within a 10-mile radius of the centre and three pre-school children with an educational assessment of autism living within a 10-mile radius of the centre. It is not possible to provide the actual number of all school age children with an educational assessment of autism who live within a 10-mile radius of the centre. I should like to reiterate the response to PQ/07/296 that the centre will provide services to children throughout Northern Ireland and Ireland.