Construction work can start later this year on Melksham’s new Community Campus, after planning permission was formally approved today.

The campus will see new leisure and community facilities built at Melksham House, following the relocation of Melksham Football and Rugby clubs, and the demolition of the Blue Pool.

It is the second of the council’s campuses to receive planning permission, with work currently under way in Corsham.

The long-running project has been overseen by the community operations board, which is chaired by Melksham Without South councillor Roy While.

He said: “I think this is another milestone step on the journey, but the journey doesn’t stop with the completion of the building. It will probably go on forever, as it’s all about the long-term community use.

“The tendering procedure is now being undertaken.

"We would look to the contractor being appointed some time in the summer, with work starting before the end of the year on the first phase, the part-demolition of Melksham House.

“The next phase will come after the relocation of the football and rugby clubs, which is expected fairly early in 2015, with completion scheduled towards the end of 2016.

"The final phase will then be the demolition of the existing swimming pool, which will take it into 2017.”

The campus will house two new swimming pools, indoor and outdoor bowls facilities, and the town’s library.

The project began in 2010, when a site adjacent to Melksham Oak Community School was earmarked for the campus, but following an extensive consultation it was moved to Melksham House.

Cllr While said: “It is the best site. It’s a major project and we have got to look at the transport situation, but this is going to change the centre of Melksham.

“It will be the thing that will trigger a positive regeneration of the town.”