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WILTSHIRE Council has fallen behind the timeline given for the development of the Melksham Campus, raising concern for a local group who say the latest update is ‘worrying’.
According to the timeline given to the community at the Melksham Area Board meeting in October, the ‘final design concept’ for the new campus was expected to be completed by the end of March.
At the area board meeting in February, after announcing that the campus plans were ‘moving ahead and on time’, Wiltshire cllr John Thomson said that he hoped to present the final design to the area board in April.
However, at the meeting held earlier this month, the update read out to those in attendance said that architects were working with the council and stakeholders to ‘advance the detailed designs with a view to submitting the planning application later this year’.
When asked by Melksham News for an update on the progress on the design and when it will be ready, a Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “We are working closely with architects and stakeholders on final details for Melksham Community Campus. The extended design team is now being appointed so that final designs can be developed. The detailed designs will continue to change as they are developed, but when a final scheme is arrived at, this will of course be shared with the local community through the area board.”
In response, a member of the campus community monitoring group, Colin Goodhind said, “It is good to see progress on some issues, but the apparent delay in completion of the final design concept and the vagueness of the explanation at this ‘early’ stage is worrying.
“This deviation from the timeline announced back in October is exactly the sort of thing that the campus watch group was set up to look out for and we will be requesting more information on this.
“The community wants to feel it’s being kept properly informed but being told that ‘when a final scheme is arrived at, this will of course be shared with the local community through the area board’ does not do this.
“The announcement back in October produced a new air of optimism about the project but the ‘blurring’ of key issues is bringing back memories of the past few years. Hopefully meaningful reassurance will be forthcoming soon.”
The update given at the area board meeting said, “Melksham House site: The architects DKA have been reappointed and are working with the council and stakeholders to advance the detailed designs with a view to submitting the planning application later this year, as per the programme (submitted October 2017).
“The council have sought pre-application advice on the residential element and how this element of the project will complement the campus.
“To accelerate and enable work to start on the site; the following is under way:An upgrade at the A350 entrance adjacent to the cemetery to make it suitable for construction traffic to enter; Removal of asbestos and demolition of redundant outbuildings; Infrastructure for tennis floodlights; Completion of all pre-construction surveys; Removal of redundant signage and the installation of hoardings.
“Outdoor bowls: The council has undertaken works to the outdoor bowls facility. These works were vital to separate the club’s infrastructure from Melksham House and allow the club to operate independently of the council. The works will conclude mid-April.
“Tennis Club: The council is out to tender for a contractor to resurface four tennis courts. Depending on the tender returns, the expectation is that this work will be complete by mid-summer. This work was due to take place as part of the main campus build, but has been advanced due to the poor state of the existing courts.
“Canberra: Legal advice has been sought and the council will arrange to meet with Young Melksham to discuss the next steps.”
Wiltshire Council’s Estimated Timeline from October 2017
• Final design concept – OVERDUE
• Cost plan 1 March – April 2018
• Update surveys Feb – Jun 2018
• Developed design and Planning information April – July 2018
• Cost plan 2 June – July 2018
• Wiltshire review scheme: Final sign-off June – July 2018
• Planning July 2018 – Jan 2019
• OJEU process tender Main contractor Oct 2018 – April 2019
• Review and Award of contract April – June 2019
• Mobilisation period June 2019
• Construction commences July 2019
• 18-month build process Until Jan 21