Commonly asked questions about the development of Mildenhall Hub.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue has decided not to go ahead with plans for a new fire station as part of the proposed Mildenhall Hub development. The decision comes following a series of successful local public engagement events.
This decision will allow the service to keep its options open into the future, with the opportunity to review in years to come to match the changing requirements of the town as further housing and infrastructure are delivered.
You can read the full press release from Suffolk County Council.
We have always recognised that traffic and parking have been key issues for a hub at Sheldrick Way, and all of the consultation, including the most recent in 2017, has confirmed that this remains a concern for local people. That isn't a reason for not doing the Hub, it just means it is an issue that we will need to address. Bus routes can also be amended.
A traffic assessment by AECOM for the planning application estimates that the worst case scenario would result in drivers waiting on average no more than thirty seconds longer during rush hour as a direct result of the Hub at the North Terrace, Kingsway, High Street three-arm roundabout. Ways to reduce this and other impacts on local roads will be looked at by the Highway Authority as part of the scheme.
The study adds that the hub will mostly redistribute existing journeys in the town and won't trigger a need for a relief or link road on its own. That road would be looked at separately in the future, alongside work on the growth of the area.
You can view summary documents for the various highways issues
Yes. We are planning for 300 spaces initially with an additional overflow parking area for events such as school sports days. There will also be room for more parking to be added in the future if needed. However, the nature of the hub facilities means that a lot of parking can be shared - for instance, school parking will be available for the leisure centre in the evenings, at weekend and in the school holidays, when leisure facilities are most busy.
Young people in and around Mildenhall deserve the very best education and learning environment. The proposed new building at the hub will be world-class and give the town's academy the extra capacity it needs. Being in the hub will also provide strong connections with local businesses and services and this will give students the best opportunity to play a valuable role in their community, improve their wellbeing and raise aspirations and skills. The learning spaces in the Hub will also be available for the whole community to use, young and old.
Safeguarding has always been the primary design principle for the hub, dating back to the first business case in 2014, and evident in the first draft scheme provided for public consultation earlier in 2017. There will be a separate pupil entrance to the academy, with a fenced 'safeguarding zone' around the school buildings and playing fields. Just as there is now at Bury Road. The design of access roads, bus drop-offs and car parking will also be designed to provide separation between vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists.
The internal link between the school and the public parts of the hub will have secure doors, and pupils will not be able to use this route unless supervised by staff (for instance for supervised use of the library). The public parts of the Hub will also be fully staffed during opening hours.
It is also worth noting that the campus at Bury Road had public access for the Dome leisure centre, and there are other examples in the UK where community facilities are integrated with schools.
The swimming pool at Mildenhall is a community pool with a catchment of around 20 minutes drive time serving the area between Bury, Ely, Newmarket and Thetford pools. The current pool is a four lane 25m pool, with limited spectator facilities.
Following the advice of Sport England and the Swim England, what is planned for the Hub is a six lane 25m pool, with more spectator seating, plus a separate 20m x 8m learner pool with a moveable floor.
The new combined pool size will be over two times larger than the current pool. Although this will cost more to build than a replacement of the existing pool, West Suffolk Council believes it is important to address both a current shortfall in swimming provision in the district and a need to future-proof facilities for future growth in and around the town.
As well as being financially sustainable, the new pools will be very flexible, allowing different uses at the same time, and also offer a fantastic new home to the Mildenhall Sharks.
The two schemes are separate, and not dependent on each other. The proposed Local Plan growth site is to cater for the demand for extra homes in the area, and is covered by a separate process. While the design of the hub will be 'future-proofed' to cope with any additional homes in and around Mildenhall, wherever they are built, the first phase of the scheme is required now to provide the facilities the existing residents of the town and surrounding villages need.
In some Local Plan consultation documents, the Hub was shown as part of a wider proposed growth site, because the growth land to the south of West Row Road is in a single ownership. However, in planning policy terms, the principle of the Hub is already agreed in the adopted 2016 Development Brief.
The hub is intended to have good public accessibility. Some of the existing paths within the Hub site will need to be diverted (and at the same time upgraded). However, the Hub will be designed to retain public access from Sheldrick Way through to the river, and the existing bridleway to West Row will not be affected. A new pedestrian and cyclist route through to Wamil Way and Church Walk will also be created (although there will be no vehicular access to the hub from Wamil Way).
Actually the hub brings all these facilities within walking distance of the town centre, allowing people to combine visits. At present, to use all of the facilities in the hub, people have to travel to several sites, only one of which is in the town centre now (the swimming pool).
It is acknowledged that, for residents on the east of the town, some facilities will be further away but, taking the population served by the Hub as a whole, a single location, within walking distance of the town centre, is felt to offer the most benefits to the most people.
Also, the best way to protect and grow the services is to find more efficient and effective ways to provide them, which a shared site does.
Only the swimming pool is currently located in the town centre, and it will still be within walking distance at the hub. A recent retail study concluded that the existing swimming pool site offered a good opportunity to improve the retail offer of the town centre if vacated, as part of a wider town centre masterplan.
People visiting the hub by car will also be able to leave their car while they walk into the town centre too, and this will bring them onto the High Street.
This isn't always the case. As an example now, the council's College Heath Road site already included the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as well as the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and district and county council services. There is already a large cross-over in users of these services, and their visits to the building, and having things co-located makes things easier for not just the user but also the service providers. It also avoids the taxpayer having to pay for separate buildings.
And that is just in relation to 'advice' services. The hub will create whole new possibilities, given the natural fit between the services. If you are a health centre worker trying to encourage a patient to join a gym or get more active, you could arrange for someone to show that patient around the leisure centre next door? If you are running a library with a school and pre-school next door, you could encourage reading by holding specific events for those children and parents? And so on.
As explained in other answers, there are considerable benefits of co-locating facilities in one place - it will make it easier to access and join-up services and avoid duplication in costly infrastructure.
However, the hub does put all of these public facilities in one place and, during the earlier consultations, we were asked whether this was a fire risk, that is 'putting all our eggs in one basket'? Mitigating this risk has always been factored into the design of the buildings, which will meet all building and safety regulations and the requirements of insurers. Specifically, there are also plans to install a sprinkler system in the new buildings.
No. Even before COVID-19 council staff were adapting to new ways of working - with some working occasionally from home and most splitting their time between working in the offices in Mildenhall and Bury St Edmunds. Combined with the transfer of staff over the years to other organisations (leisure trusts, housing associations and Anglia Revenues Partnership), we therefore had a building that was too big for our needs. It was also getting old and is in need of considerable investment to keep it running. While we could have spent millions fixing it up, it would still not be fit for purpose, and would duplicate facilities already provided in the town.
Even though the large majority of the scheme is actually for frontline services like education, health, leisure and the library, the Mildenhall Hub project would see us considerably reduce the council's office space, and allow it to share everything it uses as an organisation - for instance, sharing a council chamber with the school and rest of the community. It would also reduce the overall footprint of the public estate in the town by around 20 per cent.
The hub isn't about West Suffolk Council, or any of the ambitions of any one of the individual partners for that matter. Instead it is about an investment in local people, and shaping facilities so they are at the right level to meet current and growing demands, and of the standard that local residents deserve. It is also about creating stronger natural links such as between the health centre and the leisure centre, the school and the library.
Whatever happens, the school and leisure centre are likely to need to move to Sheldrick Way – without the other partners this would have most of the traffic but without the community benefits that the rest of the hub project will bring.
The original thoughts for the scheme did include a small element of complementary housing - around 15-20 units for key workers or people with specialist needs. This is no longer the case as there is no housing associated with the hub site itself.
Principal design work for the hub will be provided by Concertus Design and Property Consultants, appointed under a framework agreement with Suffolk County Council. See http://www.concertus.co.uk/
R G Carter, the main building contractor was appointed under Suffolk County Council's construction framework.
Work on site started in 2018, with the first new facilities at the Hub opening to the public from May 2021, reflecting a short delay to construction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.