As construction nears completion it is hoped that the public facilities in the Mildenhall Hub will be able to start opening to the community in May.
With the Government’s Roadmap to Recovery now announced it is expected that facilities will open in a rolling programme beginning on 24th May.
As part of this programme, Mildenhall College Academy will also relocate from Bury Road to the hub in Sheldrick Way, ready to welcome students back from summer half-term on 14th June.
These dates will still be subject to the final testing of the building and the Roadmap progressing as hoped by the Government. For that reason, different services have yet to finalise their precise opening plans but all wanted to share the target date as soon possible.
The new public facilities in the hub include two new pools, a gym, 3G outdoor pitch, fitness studios and a sports hall, alongside a new town library, health centre, children’s centre and a new job centre.
The hub also features office space for the NHS, police, Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Council.
Nicky Hood, Principal at the Academy said: “I’m sure I speak for all my staff and students when I say we can’t wait to get into the Hub. It’s been a long-held ambition to deliver better teaching facilities and a better learning environment that can only benefit our students.
“The chance to explore how we work with leisure, health and the other partners in offering even more to our students is just the icing on the cake especially after what has been such an incredibly challenging and unusual year.”
Due to Covid restrictions continuing until at least 12th April, and the need to focus on getting the new pools open, the old pool in Recreation Way will not reopen. The Dome and Gym, however, will open from 12th April right up until the Hub opening in May.
Warren Smyth, chief executive at Abbeycroft Leisure said: “We’re extremely excited for the opening of Mildenhall Hub and the opportunities this will bring to local people. The leisure facilities look amazing and we’re confident that our programmes and activities will offer a healthier lifestyle to everyone. Having all services under one roof at the Hub, will allow us to work even closer with our partners in public health and education, which we’re really looking forward to as we know this brings wider benefits for all.”
Cllr John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “The hub is unique, ambitious and exciting, and we are all looking forward to seeing it open and in use. The aspiration behind it has always been to provide better facilities such as the new school and leisure provision, with partners working even more collaboratively for the benefit of our residents.
“By having everything together on one site close to the town centre, it should make it easier to access all these services within one journey, rather than making several trips around the town. The Hub itself is also much more efficient than the old outdated buildings it replaces, and the savings, both environmental and economical, that it delivers, offer greater resilience to services at a time when we have all been feeling the strain.”
Cllr Nick Gowrley, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Housing and Enterprise said: “Suffolk County Council is proud to put partnership working at the heart of everything we do, and there can be no better example of that than the Mildenhall Hub.
“I offer my thanks to all the partners in this important project for their continued commitment to the people of Mildenhall and West Suffolk. I also hope that this news is seen as a moment of hope for everyone, we are finally on the road to recovery from the dark days of the last year. I look forward to seeing the Mildenhall Hub become the heart of the community it was always designed to serve.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said: “I’m very pleased to see the dates for the hub to be populated – this is great news. This exemplar project is designed for the very people we serve. It is about better facilities and accessible services working across organisations for the benefit of residents and it’s great to see how it is taking shape even in these difficult times.
“I am particularly pleased to see R G Carter has had a number of apprentices working on this project, gaining skills that will set them up for the future. Employing local people to work on The Hub makes it a truly community project, well done to everyone involved.”
One aspect that won’t be available from day one is the café, the opening of which is being deliberately kept back to allow the space to be used to manage social distancing. For that reason, it won’t be until later in the year that the Hub will be fully functional and have its official opening ceremony.
R G Carter expects to complete its construction of the Hub by the end of April. There will then be a period of testing, fit out and for partners to relocate. The roadmap, however, gives more certainty over when the hub can open.
James Wilson, Director and General Manager at R G Carter, said: “We are delighted to be in the final phase of construction and a step closer to handing over this unique and innovative project that will benefit the region for years to come.”