THE new 'one stop shop' Ilfracombe Centre will be open for business on April 22 after an eight-month £1 million overhaul. The inside should be finished by Friday, with a modern but sympathetic refurbishment to create more space to provide state-of-the-art

THE new 'one stop shop' Ilfracombe Centre will be open for business on April 22 after an eight-month £1 million overhaul.The inside should be finished by Friday, with a modern but sympathetic refurbishment to create more space to provide state-of-the-art offices, training and conference facilities for a range of service and community organisations.Ilfracombe Town Council's 1930s Grade II Listed building will soon become a centre piece for the town, containing essential services from North Devon District Council, Job Centre Plus, CAB, Pathfinder and more.People will be able to get a range of help and advice on everything from benefits and housing to community surgeries, employment and training - all under one roof.Customer advisers will be able to direct people to the help they need, and in reception there will be computers and telephones available for use, as well as a Job Point machine.The work has been carried out by Pearce Construction, from designs by RGP Architects to deal with the intricacies of a listed building."It has been a challenge from several points of view," said project architect Phil Byers of RGP."Especially because there will be so many different users going in there, so we have had to work with the needs of a variety of organisations.Another challenge has been ensuring full disabled access but that has been achieved, along with all the essential technology, fixtures and fittings for a modern centre."The final challenge was the cost; there was a limited budget, but with all theses considerations we have achieved really good value for money - and I think it's quite unique we have been able to create such a multi-use one stop shop," added Mr Byers."But it has been a good challenge and everybody has worked well together."The project has received an industry BREEAM Award for environmental good practice, which has included sensor-controlled lighting that switches off when no one is in the room, building materials recycling initiatives - and natural fibre carpets made from Irish goat hair!Some office space is still available to rent and training and conference facilities are up for hire. Telephone centre manager Andrea Beacham on (01271) 855318 to find out more. l Hear more from Phil Byers in his video interview on the Gazatte website and take a short "virtual tour" showing the development so far: northdevongazette.co.uk