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Full steam ahead for Melksham campus

THE Melksham Community Campus has moved a step closer with Wiltshire Council announcing that a planning application is to be submitted in December.

The update came at a recent area board meeting where Roy While, chair of the Shadow Community Operations Board (SCOB) and Lucy Murray-Brown, Wiltshire Council’s project director for the campus operational delivery programme, gave updates to councillors and members of the public at Melksham United Church.

The multi-million pound campus will include a new leisure centre, a 25m swimming pool and learner pool, a 4-court sports hall, a 60-station fitness suite, squash courts, cafe, health care facilities, registration service, a library and youth centre on the town centre site at Melksham House.

Amongst the highlights from the update was the announcement that a roadshow is to take place in November where members of the public will have an opportunity to express their opinion on the campus plans. The dates for the roadshow are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Following the roadshow, a planning application is hoped to be submitted in December with building starting early 2014.

Other announcements include the confirmation that Melksham Rugby Club will be joining the football club at Woolmore Farm. However, both clubs will remain completely separate and have their own facilities. The football and rugby clubs are expected to vacate their present home in December 2014, with facilities at Woolmore Farm ready for use in early 2015.

The popular luncheon service which currently takes place at Melksham House is to be moved to the Assembly Hall while building work is carried out on the new campus. Lucy Murray-Brown announced that changes to the service would be minimal and Wiltshire Council will be renovating the kitchen at Assembly Hall to help facilitate the service.

In his update Roy While said, “A lot of progress has been made. There have been a number of sub-group meetings and the architects have made some adjustments to the scheme layout. Further meetings will take place in the next couple of weeks with the YAG (Youth Advisory Group) the GP Surgery sub-group and with users of the Melksham House site.

“We have received presentations from the landscape architect and this has included ideas for the development of the existing pond which will become an integral part of the campus. We have also considered art plan proposals which will ensure the campus design reflects Melksham’s heritage.

“Last week we met with Wiltshire Council’s highways officer and the travel consultant, discussing the progress of the transport assessment including site access and parking. Obviously we want adequate parking on site, but we also want to encourage cycling and public transport.

“The campus design team is making good progress and in November we kick off the pre-planning consultation, with an informal meeting with the area board members before taking the road show around the Melksham community. All being well, we shall submit the planning application in December.”

Lucy Murray-Brown followed the SCOB update with a presentation. In that she said, “Things are progressing heavily in Melksham and a lot of pre-planning is taking place. The roadshow will allow the design and models to be shared with the public and we hope to gain a better understanding of what people are thinking on these roadshows.

“The decision to move the rugby club to Woolmore Farm is a joint one, with everyone involved consulted and in agreement that this is the best solution. The initial plan to put the rugby club at Dunch Lane was unsustainable and in planning these developments we have to think about the future and if they are sustainable.

“The luncheon service will see minimal disruption as the move to Assembly Hall will allow people to still attend the event. In any project of this size there will be an element of disruption, but we aim to make that as small as possible. To help this we plan to have a phased construction, with work beginning initially on Melksham House, which will mean the sports clubs can continue at their present site for as long as possible.”

Following the presentation Lucy Murray-Brown fielded questions from the public where she confirmed existing uses will be able to continue as usual for as long as possible, with closures to services only taking place when necessary or for safety reasons. This includes the bowls club who had expressed concerns about confirming fixtures for next season.