Work on the state-of-the-art Integrated Youth Centre for Dawlish will be marked by an official Turf Cutting Ceremony next week (Mon 6 July) at Sandy Lane, Dawlish.
The new centre is the result of a funding package in the region of £3million, from Devon County Council, the Big Lottery Fund and Dawlish Town Council. Teignbridge District Council has provided the land for the development.
Local young people have been instrumental in its inception, conducting surveys and providing feedback on their needs and aspirations, raising funds, meeting with engineers and providing ideas on the design and equipment, and will also be involved in staffing the centre.
Councillor Christine Channon, Cabinet Member for Schools and Skills, said: "The start of this project is the culmination of several years of really hard work from the entire community, and it is wonderful to mark this important stage in the process.
"The centre is a superb example of many different sectors of a community working together for the benefit of all. I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their efforts, especially the young people, and thank the organisations who have provided funding for the project.
"The completed building should provide a real hub for the young people of Dawlish and the surrounding area, and give them a legacy which will benefit future generations."
The final design, which will be constructed by Rok and has been designed and project-managed by NPS, will boast a wide range of facilities for 13-19 year olds. These include a recording studio and editing suite, a games and socialising area, dance area with DJ booth, IT suite, office area and facilities where young people can learn vocational skills such as carpentry, hairdressing and general building.
The centre and its programme will be accessible to all young people, including those with disabilities, and will also provide a base for services such as youth offending, drug and alcohol advice and health services. It will also provide sessions for younger children aged 10-13 as a way of engaging them at an early age.
Dawlish County Councillor John Clatworthy said: "This development which is real example or partnership working at its best and has been many years in gestation but the wait will have been well worthwhile for the excellent facilities which will be created."
Paris Mitchell aged 15, said: "The new youth centre is going to be great, it's so exciting that it feels like it's being built just for us! This area has needed something like this for young people for a long time and now we're getting more than we ever expected."
Alex Green aged 14, added: "The new centre looks like it's going to be pretty amazing, there's already the skate park there so to have all that new stuff there too is great. People are already buzzing about what it's going to be like, the kids have never had anything like this, it's good to be excited!!"
Dawlish Action for Youth has been instrumental in driving the project forward. Stuart Carson from Dawlish Action for Youth, said: "For ten years we have been pushing to achieve the aspirations of the youth of Dawlish, who said they have had nowhere to go, and nothing to do.
"Last year a state of the art skateboard park was built, and this next year a state-of-the-art integrated youth centre will materialise.
"As well as providing the much-needed social facility for young people, the vocational training facilities incorporated are seen as vital in helping each young person to develop themselves and offer them a brighter future. We are very lucky."