A major milestone in a project that will revolutionise the future of education, leisure and public services has been achieved, after councillors gave their planning approval to the Mildenhall Hub.
Forest Heath District Council’s Development Control Committee voted in favour of the landmark project on Wednesday evening.
The final say on whether the scheme goes ahead will now lie with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid.
The scheme is being referred to him by the council as it represents a departure from the Local Plan. It is anticipated that a decision from the Secretary of State could be made next month.
Leader of Forest Heath District Council James Waters said: “This is a major step towards realising our ambitions for Mildenhall and the surrounding area, its people and for our future generations. We want to deliver better school and leisure facilities for our growing population of residents in and around Mildenhall. The facilities that we have now are not fit for purpose. On top of that, the public service buildings in the town need millions of pounds of investment to stay open, and even then would not be suited to modern day needs.
“The Mildenhall Hub is the answer and brings a new school, leisure facilities, larger swimming pool, health centre, library and other public services together on one site close to the heart of the existing town centre. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in a better education for youngsters in the area, better gym facilities, better swimming facilities, which will also be more user friendly and more sustainable despite future financial challenges.”
The Hub project had been shaped through several rounds of consultation, including with those who live closest to the site and so who stand to be the most affected. That in turn saw the design evolve to include changes to landscaping, footpaths and parking for people with disabilities as well as the provision of overflow parking spaces within the site. Ways to reduce the impact of the Hub on local roads will also be looked at by the Highway Authority as part of the scheme.
Susan Byles, principal of Mildenhall College Academy, said: “We are delighted that the project has been approved by the Development Control Committee and now await the Secretary of State’s decision. We are committed to providing an outstanding education for our students and we think they deserve a state-of-the-art academy building in which to learn and develop as young people who live and may one day work and raise their families in the local community. This exciting project will positively impact the academy, its pupils, and staff whilst benefiting the community of Mildenhall for years to come.”
Edward Thomas, Academy Transformation Trust’s Estates Director, said: “We are delighted that we are involved in such an exciting project as the Mildenhall Hub. Now, subject to the Secretary of State’s approval, one of ATT’s academies will enjoy and benefit from the positive experience of this unique opportunity, operating with a range of partners on one site.”
Pictured above James Waters