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Childer Thornton £2m equine therapy centre to benefit people with autism

Centre will support service users and their families mainly from Cheshire West and Wirral
An artist's impression of what The Westlake Equine Therapy Centre will look like

A ground-breaking £2m-plus equine therapy centre for people with autism has been granted planning consent by Cheshire West & Chester Council.

The Westlake Equine Therapy and Respite Centre on Welsh Road, Childer Thornton, is to be built by the Westlake Community Interest Company (CiC) for Autism Together – formerly known as Wirral Autistic Society – who will run the centre alongside existing facilities in Raby and Bromborough.

Equine therapy has been shown to have huge benefits for people with a diagnosis of autism or Asperger’s and those with special educational needs.

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In what is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, the centre will provide equine-based work, therapy and respite care for Autism Together’s service users and their families, drawn from a wide catchment but predominantly in Wirral and Cheshire West.

The centre will include stables and an indoor arena, a day centre and respite lodges. Outdoor facilities will include paddocks and areas for horticulture and animal husbandry.

An artist's impression showing The Westlake Equine Therapy & Respite Centre

The project, which is expected to be built in phases, represents an investment of more than £2 million and is being financed by the landowners, Westlake CiC, who are seeking a combination of charitable donations and other finance options.

Once completed, the scheme will be run in partnership with Autism Together.

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Originally there had been a plan to fund the capital cost from the sale of 15 residential plots but this proved controversial because it was on green belt land facing the Welsh Road, opposite the Mercure Woodhey Hotel. This element was later withdrawn.

Autism Together’s chief executive Robin Bush said: “All of us here at Autism Together are delighted that this amazing scheme has been granted consent by CW&C. The equine therapy and respite centre will provide us with much-needed new facilities which will help serve our fast growing list of service users in Wirral and Cheshire.”

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