WILTSHIRE Air Ambulance’s plans to move to Semington got off to a flying start last week as the charity secured planning permission for its new base near the bypass.
The outline proposal was submitted in November last year, and will see a new headquarters built on land at Outmarsh Farm, near Melksham Police Station. The move would bring the charity’s offices and helicopter operations into one location, from which it will be able to reach any part of Wiltshire in just 11 minutes.
Head of operations at the charity, Kevin Reed said, “We are delighted to have received outline planning permission from Wiltshire Council. We searched for over a year to find the most suitable site to build our new home, and carried out extensive public consultation.
“The Outmarsh Farm site will enable us to have full control over the land and be future-proof. It is centrally located in Wiltshire which would enable our helicopter to reach all parts of the county within 11 minutes.
“As Melksham does not have an ambulance station, we believe that Wiltshire Air Ambulance would provide enhanced medical cover for the area. As well as responding in our helicopter our paramedics, who have advanced medical skills, can also respond to emergencies such as road traffic collisions, heart attacks and strokes in a rapid response car.
“Now we will work on the detailed design of our new home and information on the public consultation we will undertake will be announced in due course.”
Currently the helicopter and aircrew are based at a hangar at Wiltshire Police Headquarters in Devizes, while the charity team is based at offices in Calne. The leases on both sites will run out within the next two years.
Wiltshire Council decided to grant outline planning permission last week, after a consultation saw the proposals supported by a number of local councils.
The new base will cost up to £4million to build, of which Wiltshire Air Ambulance hopes to raise £1million through a capital appeal. The remainder will be funded by an anonymous private benefactor.