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THE Melksham Community Campus project has been saved from potential collapse with an additional £3million investment to its budget from Wiltshire Council, who are funding the project.
According to a report submitted to Wiltshire Council cabinet members, the project was ‘over budget’ and could not be delivered within the previous approved budget.
‘Delays to delivering the campus’ is one of the reasons given for the increase of the final overall cost of the project. Other reasons given include modifications to the campus design, which include the inclusion of spectator seating for the swimming pool; and renovation costs for the whole site including the Melksham House pond and walls surrounding the site.
The additional £3million, approved by cabinet members this week, increases the total capital budget for the campus to £20.1million. This is in addition to the £8.4million spent to deliver the football and rugby club, skate park, cricket pavilion, and Market Place renovations – which are all considered to be part of the council’s ‘community campus project’ for the town.
Melksham House future decided?
Cabinet members have also agreed in principle, plans for the future use of Melksham House, which could cost up to £7million – £5million more than the current budget allocated for the Grade II listed building.
Plans put forward propose residential care facilities to support children and young people aged 10–18 years in the main house; a community resource centre in the former dance hall; and 16 supported living units to be built on land at the rear of the building.
The absence of a plan for the historic building has caused delays to the campus project and cabinet members were told at this week’s meeting that the campus project ‘would not achieve planning without a viable solution being found for Melksham House’.
It is hoped that the new plan for the building, which is in the ‘early stages’ of development, will give stakeholders in the planning process assurance of its future, and help the campus planning application achieve approval in November.
A detailed proposal for the Melksham House plans will be presented to Wiltshire Council’s cabinet in January.
Lack of leisure provision
In the report recommending the £3million investment, Wiltshire Council cabinet members were warned that leisure provision in Melksham is ‘already below the recommended level’ due to the closure of Christie Miller Sports Centre in October last year. If the investment request had been turned down, it would mean a significant investment in the Blue Pool would still have to be made.
No campus GP surgery
The report also confirmed that there is no budget allocated for the future provision of a GP surgery on the site.
The report says, “The approved capital for the campus programme included the costs of incorporating the GP surgery. As there is no confirmation that this will take place, and the fact that this would now be a stand-alone building (on the site of Blue Pool), any capital has been incorporated into the campus budget.”
Originally it was planned that St Damian’s Surgery would move onto the site. But in February this year, the Bradford on Avon and Melksham Health Partnership (BoAHMP), who manage the surgery, confirmed that they have no plans to move into the Melksham campus space.
The delivery date for the campus project is still estimated to be mid-2021.
The spend so far for the campus building project on the Melksham House site is reported to be £2.3million. The report says, “This has been spent on design and consultation services, planning fees, site surveys, project costs, staff costs, enabling works and site maintenance.”