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Plans for new Mildenhall swimming pool, leisure centre and school labelled “revolutionary”

PUBLISHED: 08:35 08 March 2016 | UPDATED: 16:30 08 March 2016

Sheldrick Way in Mildenhall.

Sheldrick Way in Mildenhall.

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Multimillion-pound plans for a “revolutionary” Mildenhall complex including all the town’s secondary school education and a new primary school have gone out to public consultation.

Sheldrick Way in Mildenhall. Sheldrick Way in Mildenhall.

Forest Heath District Council previously earmarked the current Mildenhall Academy Sixth Form College site in Sheldrick Way as being the best site for a hub, bringing a number of public services together in one area.

“Imagine how much simpler life would be if you could go for a medical check up, borrow a book from the library, go for a quick swim in a new leisure centre, and drop your child or grandchild off at school– all at one central location in the town,” said district council leader James Waters yesterday as the consultation was announced.

The eight sites around the town that could all move onto the one site include Mildenhall Academy’s Sheldrick Way and Bury Road sites, the fire station, swimming pool, council offices, the library, the police station and the Dome Leisure Centre.

Mr Waters believes bringing the buildings all together in one area could be hugely beneficial, particularly with the area due to see an increase in population in the coming years.

“That is the vision for the Mildenhall Hub – but it is not just about convenience or saving you time,” he said.
“Many of these buildings will need millions of pounds of investment over the next few years just to keep them going.

“By investing in the hub now, we can save on our annual running costs and freeing up eight other sites in and around Mildenhall for other uses.”

The draft development brief for the hub includes a new leisure centre with a larger swimming pool, fitness suite, sports hall and new learner pool, as well as studio spaces, an artificial pitch and new grass pitches.

Mr Waters said all of these would be shared with the existing sixth form and a new primary school that is proposed for the site.

Announcing the start of the consultation yesterday, the district council hailed the hub as “revolutionary”.

However, it has admitted in the draft development brief that the plan would not be “without its challenges”, saying it would have an impact on local residents.

All the land under consideration for the hub, comprising the college, its playing fields, grounds depot, allotments, the pre-school, and agricultural land immediately to the west is owned by Suffolk County Council and is within 10 minutes of the town centre. The current academy building would be retained.

Forest Heath has also not ruled out “complimentary housing” being part of the development to help assimilate it into the community.

According to the council, the first priority is the new leisure centre, which along with the swimming pool is reaching the “end of its lifespan” and would require a large investment to keep it operational. These would be followed by the secondary school and offices, with the primary school the third priority.

The new primary school arises from an expected rise in the town’s population between now and 2030.

The council said it was estimated the school would need finishing “mid-way through this growth period”.

Consultation on the plan closes on April 25 and a planning application is due to be submitted later this year.

For more information go to www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/mildenhallhub

The brief is also available at the council offices, in College Heath Road, Mildenhall.

An informal drop-in session will also be held between 3:30pm and 8pm on April 4 at The Fenland Room, Mildenhall Parish Council, The Pavilion, Recreation Way.

Any comments should be sent to mildenhall.hub@westsuffolk.gov.uk

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