Children will excitedly pass through the doors of the north-east’s newest nursery today after the belated completion of a £1.3 million extension to a community centre.
Macbi Community Hub, which offers sporting facilities, a café and children’s play areas, was left counting the cost when lockdown hit just months after it committed to the expensive undertaking.
However, the Newlands Road venue, operated by charity Mintlaw and Central Buchan Initiative, is now finally welcoming almost a dozen children through the doors of the venue’s new early years nursery.
Hopes for better times after delays
Centre manager Connie Strachan hopes the partial reopening of the centre, and in particular the addition of Mini Macs nursery, will signal the start of better times ahead for the venture.
“We are hoping that now there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
“Mini Macs is opening now and we’re expecting to reopen the whole hub from April 26.
“It’s exciting. We have 11 kids booked in for Monday and we offer spaces, both funded and private, for kids aged two to five.
“Because of the increased hours being offered there’s not enough capacity between the two nurseries in Mintlaw. That was one of the reasons we included it in the plans, to help meet that need.”
Headed up by manager Ashton McCouaig, Mini Mac’s has created six new jobs and is open from 8am to 6pm.
Extension has sports hall, library and seating area
The new extension also features a new sports hall, library, a seating area to overlook the existing astro-turf pitch, along with two multi-purpose rooms which will be used for classes for families and adults.
There’s also a youth room which features a mezanine area and “chill out zone”.
“Our existing sports hall can’t be used for certain sports so this one can accommodate everything and it’s bigger too,” Ms Strachan added.
“The youth room can’t open yet as we’re actively looking for funding for a youth leader to manage the space. As soon as we have that, we can open the doors there too.”
The £1.3m extension has been built where the town’s library previously sat, meaning that’s been incorporated into the new space instead.
It’ll open for click and collect from April 26, too, and will be more suited to offer new activities than its predecessor.
The extension should have opened last August, but lockdown delayed the process.
Now its opening falls the same month as the original hub’s seventh anniversary.
“We are really excited to get opening and get going,” Ms Strachan added.
“We got the keys to the finished extension in January and couldn’t open because of lockdown, so it’s not worked out the way we hoped but hopefully things will get better this year.
“This project has been in the pipeline since we opened the hub seven years ago and joked about needing an extension.”
A project 5 years in the making
Connie added: “It’s taken five years start to finish, but really the last two years have been when we pulled it together through the community asset transfer and getting plans and funding in place.
“I cannot wait to see what new activities will be added to our timetables and see what the future holds for the Macbi Community Hub and Macbi Café.
“I am due off on maternity leave so am both excited for my new arrival and sad to be handing over the hub that has felt like my baby for the last six years.
“I have no doubts that new managers Sarah Wood and Jill Welsh will be great in their new roles and wish them and the rest of my Macbi family the very best of luck for reopening again.”
The extension was funded through grants from Sports Scotland, Robertson Trust, Garfield Weston, the council’s developer obligations, town centre and early years funds and from Macbi’s own savings.