The first customers to the Mildenhall Hub are being welcomed from today as the gradual phased opening begins.
The new Mildenhall Library in the main atrium area opened at 10am today, Tuesday 1st June, while Abbeycroft Leisure is welcoming some of its members and local clubs to a series of test events ahead of the full opening on 14th June.
Allison Higgins from Lark Road in Mildenhall was the first customer at the Hub. She said: “It’s incredible. I love the atrium and library area and I’m looking forward to everything else, particularly the leisure facilities. It’s great to have everything under one roof.”
The phased opening of the Hub, which brings together education, health, leisure, community and public services, will see Abbeycroft start to take general bookings for its facilities from the end of next week, while Mildenhall College Academy will complete its move from its Bury Road site over half term, ready to welcome students from 14th June.
Once fully open the Hub will offer a new school, two new pools, a gym, a 3G outdoor pitch, fitness studios and a sports hall, alongside a new town library, health centre, children’s centre and job centre. The Hub also features office space for the NHS, police, Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Council with the Hub partners all due to complete their move to the Sheldrick Way site over the summer.
Mildenhall Library customers will benefit from a modern, larger library facility while its placement at the centre of the Hub will eventually enable visitors to access other Hub services in a single trip. The library’s opening hours will initially be 10am to 3pm Monday to Saturday for the first two weeks, but from 14 June it will significantly increase its weekly opening hours from 68 to over 100 and will be open seven days a week. This is to reflect the library’s key role at the centre of the Hub with staff acting as Hub hosts helping to welcome visitors to the building.
Bruce Leeke, Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “It’s really exciting to be opening a new library in the heart of this fantastic new facility and our customers will eventually benefit from the longer opening hours and the chance to access all these services under one roof. We take pride in our strong roots in the local community and look forward to working with other Hub partners to make the library even more than the sum of its parts. Libraries are a gateway to so much and we want to take this opportunity to encourage even more people to use our services and enjoy our diverse range of activities.”
The Hub will bring together public services to improve the health, well-being and education for the community. It will enable residents to access a host of different services all in a single journey and it brings environmental and economical savings through the old-outdated buildings it replaces.
Mildenhall Hub is recognised as a significant project in the Government’s national One Public Estate Programme and the funding for the project is coming from West Suffolk Council, the Department for Education, Suffolk County Council, Academy Transformation Trust, Sport England and Suffolk Police.
Cllr Jo Rayner, West Suffolk Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Community Hubs, said: “While lots of work has taken place, for me this marks a new and exciting chapter in the Hub story and it’s great to see the library open and welcoming visitors to this fantastic new facility. And we can promise you a page turner with even more to look forward to as the bigger and better leisure facilities, new school and other Hub partners move in over the coming days and weeks ahead and set about working even more collaboratively for the benefit of our residents.”
Final work on the car park and bus stop area will be taking place over the next week or so ahead of the school opening. Some of the landscaping work will also now take place later this year, to tie into planting seasons, and visitors are asked to bear with the Hub team while this, and any other teething problems found in what is a very complex building are put right.
Councillor Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Public Protection, and Communities, said: “This is a very exciting first step in opening the Hub to the public who are set to benefit from a wide range of crucial services and outstanding facilities all under one roof. Being recognised nationally by Government demonstrates the scale and importance of this project, not just for Mildenhall but for Suffolk as well. I’m sure local residents are excited to have a look at the brand new facilities and the library is a great way to showcase what they can expect.”
Any books already reserved will be ready for customers on their first visit and customers will be able to book computers and access printing and copying facilities from 1 June. Once the Hub opens on its full operating hours, customers will also be able to return books and items via the self-service machines outside of usual library opening hours. The library will be aiming to reintroduce the regular programme of library activities for people of all ages in July. Customers are advised that social distancing applies which will mean access will be managed until such times as the national restrictions are lifted. Masks will still need to be worn and people need to take part in the test and trace process.
For more on Mildenhall Library visit www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/visit/locations-and-times/mildenhall-library