Members voted unanimously in favour of delivering the £6million youth facility at the council’s Assets, Regeneration and Growth Committee meeting.
The plans will see a purpose-built Youth Zone open seven-days-a-week with more than 20 activities on offer every session for young people aged 8-19, or up to 25 for those with a disability.
The aim of the Youth Zone is to raise the aspirations, enhance prospects and improve health and wellbeing for young people in Barnet, by providing affordable access to a wide range of programmes, services and activities including sports, arts, music, employability and mentoring.
To reflect the growing population due to regeneration in the area, the Committee agreed for the Youth Zone to be built in the wards of Colindale or Burnt Oak.
The preferred site for the Youth Zone is Montrose Playing Fields in Burnt Oak, near to Grahame Park and Colindale.
The Youth Zone is being developed in partnership with OnSide, a national charity with a network of six Youth Zones and two more set to be completed in 2016.
The Committee agreed to an investment by Barnet Council of up to £4.2million towards the Youth Zone development costs as well as providing the site. This funding will come from the council’s infrastructure reserves, money received from developers to pay for infrastructure costs in the vicinity of large scale developments.
OnSide has, in turn, committed to securing a further £4.8million, which combined with the Council funding will cover both the construction and opening costs of the building, but also ensure the Youth Zone’s running costs are secured for the first three years. OnSide will raise these funds via its network of private sector supporters and charitable trusts and grants. Together, the Council and OnSide will invest £9million in local children and young people over first three years of operation.
Councillor Daniel Thomas, Deputy Leader of Barnet Council, said: “This exciting new youth facility will offer young people a fantastic opportunity to take part in a range of activities that will complement the services we already provide.
“The funding will come from our dedicated infrastructure reserves to pay for schemes to support the local community. As the population of the west of the borough continues to grow, it makes sense that we locate the Youth Zone in this area.”
Keith Black, Chairman of the new OnSide Youth Zone in Barnet said: “I am delighted that the council has agreed to bring the OnSide model to Barnet. I live in North London, but work in Manchester and I have seen at first-hand the success of the network of existing centres for young people. We have every confidence that this offer for young people will be equally successful for children and young people in Barnet, and especially those in the nearby areas of Burnt Oak and Colindale.”
Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive of OnSide Youth Zones added: “It is incredibly exciting to be able to announce the plans for another Youth Zone in London. The vision and commitment of Barnet Council to invest in a project like this, which I know will go on to deliver for its young people for years to come, is incredibly overwhelming. The substantial support OnSide is receiving from local authorities such as Barnet, alongside the private sector and several charitable trust and grants, will ensure that many more young people benefit from safe and inspiring places to go in their leisure time.”