A Buckie community centre will get a £600,000 refurbishment to boost childcare services in the region.
The Lady Cathcart Community Centre is poised to be overhauled with the complete renovation of the ground floor in the former school.
Once the six-month project is finished it will open up the possibility for the refitted nursery to run all year round for up to 10 hours a day.
The investment in the council-run building, which is being fully funded by the Scottish Government, will also include a new heating system.
Yesterday, Buckie councillor Sonya Warren explained parents in the town had been struggling to make arrangements for children to be looked after.
She said: “It’s a very welcome investment because, especially in Buckie, child care for young people is at capacity. It’s very difficult to get places.
“It’s going to give parents a lot more flexibility so they can choose to go back to work if they want to.”
Work on the refurbishment project is due to start before the end of next month and is expected to be finished in time for the start of term in August.
It is part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to expand childcare hours from 600 hours to 1,140 hours by 2020 for three and four-year-olds, as well as some two-year-olds.
Consultations have been run with staff and groups that use the building to offer alternative arrangements while the work is being done.
Moray Council’s director for education and social care, Laurence Findlay, said: “This is a huge investment for Buckie where early learning and childcare facilities have been at capacity for some time.
“Refurbishing the nursery at Lady Cathcart and having additional provision will allow all nurseries in the area to continue to deliver the quality early learning experience we want for our children.
“We are at an exciting juncture for this sector and the opportunity to provide another standalone nursery in Buckie will be of great benefit to many children for years to come.”