Melksham Assembly Hall was packed last night as the first plans for the long-running Melksham Community Campus project were finally revealed.

Over 250 people came to the Area Board meeting, to find out what will be included in the new campus.

The 13.9 acre site will be built around the Grade II-listed Melksham House, and will see a six-lane swimming pool replace the existing Blue Pool, as well as a sports hall, fitness suite, dance studio and library built on the site.

The campus will also include council offices, a clinical facility, an ICT suite, tennis courts, a cricket pitch and an indoor bowls rink. Melksham Town Football Club will be moved to a new site at Woolmore Farm, while Melksham Rugby Club is to be relocated to land to the north of Dunch Lane.

Residents, business owners, sports clubs and council service users were all in attendance, and shared their opinions on the project.

Melksham Town councillor Jon Hubbard said: "It is no exaggeration to say the birth of this project was slightly more painful than we would have liked, but I would like to thank the chair for all the hard work of the SCOB committee.
“Some really important points have been raised by residents and I think there are some things we will have to think very carefully about as we continue with the planning process.”

After taking questions on the campus plans the Area Board voted unanimously in favour of the positioning of the campus and the list of facilities to be included, and agreed to press forward with the current plans.

No budget details were confirmed for the campus, but the total cost is now likely to exceed the £23m quoted for the original out-of-town campus.
The facility will include a single entrance hub with a cafe, and will retain the parkland entrance from Market Place, while the new buildings will cluster around the pond in the centre of the site.

Space will also be allocated for a potential expansion of Melksham cemetery.

Parking was another contentious issue, with the number of spaces yet to be decided, amid much discussion over the role of public transport and the wider impact of the campus traffic on the town. A detailed transport consultation is planned, but a vehicle drop-off area is likely to be included in the final plans.

The campus project will now begin its formal planning stage, which will see the design of the facilities decided. This is expected to be ready by March 2013.
Full report and reaction in next week's Wiltshire Times