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A PROPOSED new community hall that could serve around 1,200 residents on land to the east of Spa Road has been blasted as too small – even for a game of table tennis!
The proposed new community hall – located next to the Spa Medical Centre – will form part of the new housing development currently in progress, which will bring 450 new homes on land off Snowberry Lane.
At the economic development and planning committee meeting of the town council last week, councillors described the plans for the centre as ‘not fit for purpose’, ‘inadequate’, and ‘too small’ to serve the community in that area.
It was highlighted that the entire proposed footprint of the building, approximately 10 metres by 10 metres – which would include a community room, kitchen, store room and toilets – is smaller than Sport England guidance for village and community halls, which says the minimum footprint of the building should be 20 metres by 12 metres.
“I don’t think it will even be big enough for a game of table tennis,” said cllr Jon Hubbard, who also highlighted that Sport England guidance recommends that the hall or ‘community room’ alone should be at least 8 metres by 4 metres for table tennis.
“It’s not big enough for a pilates or yoga class,” added cllr Hubbard.
Councillors also raised concerns about the centre having only 10 parking spaces, and the impact on local traffic by creating a fifth exit on the Spa Rd/Snowberry Lane roundabout to allow access to the centre.
Councillors also expressed their disappointment that the developers had not listened to their concerns in March 2019 about the centre being too small and had not considered handing over the land to the town council and Melksham Without Parish Council to construct a ‘larger building to their liking’ using Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) monies – financial contributions made by developers towards the cost of supporting infrastructure.
Leader of Melksham Town Council, cllr Vanessa Fiorelli said, “There’s no point spending half a million pounds on something that will be completely useless. Do it properly, and make sure that it can actually be used, not just for now but for future generations as well. It’s only going to get bigger out that way.”
Chair of Melksham Without Parish Council, Richard Wood, who was invited to talk at the meeting, said, “It will serve a lot of people to the east of Melksham – roughly 1,200 residents – as a community hall for the whole of the east of Melksham, it is not fit for purpose.”
At the meeting, town councillors voted unanimously to object to the plans and ask for an urgent meeting with the developers and Melksham Without Parish Council.
The public consultation for the application closes on Wednesday 9th September, and a decision by Wiltshire Council is expected by Tuesday 15th September. To view the plans and comment, visit the Wiltshire Council planning website, and search using the reference 20/06075/REM.