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A NEW proposal for Melksham Community Campus has been unveiled by Wiltshire Council, with a number of significant amendments to the design shared last year in October.
The changes include; relocation of the main health and wellbeing centre to the site of the Conigre football pitch; a reduction in the amount of land allocated to new housing, with only the site of Melksham House earmarked for development; retention of the current Melksham House car park; and the multi-use games area (MUGA) has been relocated to behind the campus on the old rugby pitch. The construction of the new GP surgery has also moved to the current site of Melksham Blue Pool
The new proposal is still not the ‘final design concept’ for the campus that was to be ready by the end of March this year, according to the timeline given to the community at the Melksham Area Board meeting in October last year.
Wiltshire Council has said that the new proposal is ‘still subject to the design and planning process’ and that their ‘design team is working on detailed designs for the new facility and these will be shared with the local community as soon as possible’.
Despite fears from the community about the campus plans falling behind schedule, the council has offered reassurance that ‘the new campus is on schedule for completion by early 2021’. Adding his take on the situation, cllr Jon Hubbard said at this month’s Melksham Area Board meeting, “Things have slipped a bit, and they (Wiltshire Council) are in catch-up mode.”
Subject to planning consent, bulldozers will be on the Melksham House site later this summer to start the demolition of the outbuildings, football facilities and rugby changing rooms prior to construction starting on the new centre. This initial preparation work will not include demolition of the Melksham House building itself.
Construction work on the new centre is expected to commence next summer, subject to planning consent.
The new community campus will provide a swimming pool, fitness suite, library and community hub, sports hall, squash courts, a GP surgery, outdoor bowls, cricket facilities, a café and office space. New tennis courts will be developed later this year.
John Thomson, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for community campuses said, “This is a challenging project but we’re pleased with the progress so far and contrary to some reports, we are on schedule for completion in 2021.
“Initial preparation work is expected this summer, marking a major milestone for the project and I’m sure residents will be encouraged to see work start at the site.
“We wanted to make sure that we provided the right facilities for the town and I’m certain that the people of Melksham will be pleased with the new campus when it’s delivered. It will be a positive and much-needed facility for the local area.”
Permission is also being sought to improve access off the A350 for construction vehicles, which will speed the works’ progress.
Further updates on the project will continue to be shared with the community at future area board meetings.
The future of the indoor bowls club as part of the new Melksham Community Campus remains uncertain, with the club absent from the new design proposal.
On the original design unveiled in October, the site of Melksham Blue Pool was earmarked for construction of the indoor bowls club – with the offer of match funding of £150,000 from Wiltshire Council.
Speaking to Melksham News, Mick Over from the Christie Miller Indoors Bowls Club explained that the offer to build a new indoor bowls facility is still open to the club, but they may have to find an alternative arrangement because of the amount of money that needs to be raised and the uncertainty as to when their current home, Christie Miller Sports Centre, will close.
Mick said, “We need to raise up to £750,000 to build on the Melksham House site – the council has offered us land on the new site of the MUGA.
“However, we don’t know how long we have left at Christie Miller. We’ve heard it could close at the end of the year, and if that is the case, we need to find somewhere now. If the council could tell us that Christie Miller is staying open for the next three years, that gives us time to raise the money.
“But we are in limbo and this is jeopardising our upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations. We are now considering looking for a warehouse or a barn which we can convert into a bowls club – a cheaper and quicker solution. This has gone to the committee and will be discussed at our AGM later this month.
“This is our exercise time, our time to chat and socialise – it’s important to around 250 people in the town. Once the club has gone, we lose all that.”
Melksham News asked Wiltshire Council to comment on the future of the indoor bowls club and provide an update on Christie Miller Sports Centre. A spokesperson said, “The club are currently looking at other options and we will support them with this.
“No update on the Christie Miller situation yet, but as soon as that changes we’ll let the community know.”