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Acorn plans £600,000 investment

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A CENTRE which provides work and training opportunities for disabled Islanders and those with long-term health problems has applied to replace a polytunnel at its headquarters in Trinity with a long-term solution.

An artist's impression of the new facility

The £600,000 project at Acorn Enterprises will include the replacement of the existing polytunnel that is used for training and in which clients transform many of the items that are rescued from the incinerator to be recycled and sold on from the organisation’s reuse centre.

Under the plans a large shed-like structure would replace the tunnel, providing a retail unit, workshop and store to the east of the site in Rue d’Asplet. A patch of agricultural land would also be made into a car park.

Jocelyn Butterworth, executive officer for the Jersey Employment Trust that runs Acorn Enterprises, said an earlier application to replace the facility had been approved but the organisation had now decided to opt for a sturdier, shed-like design that it was hoped would last longer.

‘It will actually give us a better facility for our clients for training and although it is a different structure it is no different to what we had passed [in terms of size and scale],’ she said.

‘We have got the collection point at La Collette [where items that can be reused and recycled are collected] and this is just to give us a better workshop facility for our clients to be able to process the goods and we will be training them in all kinds of things like IT and logistics.

‘It will also allow us to have a bigger shop because at the moment we are just trading out of one corner.’

She added that there had been a great public response to the reuse centre, which opened in January.

‘We have regular customers and people are really enjoying it,’ she said. ‘They are enjoying the prices and we are also supporting so many other charities by donating goods to them when we have too much. For example we give all our books away and the clothes. It is a great win-win for everybody. But the best thing is the jobs it is creating.’

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If planning approve the plans, which have been drawn up by Morris Architects, work is due to start on replacing the polytunnel in February, with the new facility due to open in the spring or early summer. Acorn Enterprises does not plan to close while the work is carried out.

Ms Butterworth added that the organisation hopes that Acorn Industries, which receives no grant from the States and is funded entirely by donations and revenue it raises, will be able to break-even within three years.

‘This project is a good investment for us,’ she said.

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