Wiltshire Publications

Westbury campus proposals revealed: shaping the future of leisure

THREE options for a community campus for Westbury have been presented to the town and residents have now got a chance to have their say.

The options were presented to the recent meeting of Westbury Area Board and it has led to fears over the future of the town’s historic Victorian Pool as two of the options include the building of a new pool. Option One would maintain the three main existing sites: Leighton Recreation Centre, the library and the Victorian swimming pool; Option Two would see a new pool built at Leighton, with an ‘alternative use’ found for the town centre swimming pool. And the third option, a single site campus, would relocate current facilities to a ‘new building with modern facilities’.

Such a move would also be at the expense of the town’s much-loved Victorian swimmaing pool, town centre library, and Leighton Recreation Centre.

Campus facilities

All three options include a library service, indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, youth services, and the neighbourhood policing team. Other elements could include meeting rooms, a clinical room, multi-purpose activity spaces, hot desk spaces for Wiltshire Council staff, children’s play space, and computers.

The three campus options were presented to the meeting of Westbury Area Board on 15th August, where the first comments, questions, and opinions were put forward by members of the public. The Community Operations Board (COB) – the community steering group behind the development – presented the options to the town on behalf of Wiltshire Council.

Option 1 would redistribute services across three sites: Leighton Recreation Centre, a refurbished library and the Victorian swimming pool.

Option 2 would see facilities split between an extended library and Leighton Recreation Centre (which would also house a new 25m pool). An ‘alternative use’ would be found for the Victorian Pool building.

Option 3 would look to provide a single site campus of all current facilities, ‘within accessible and easy reach of the town centre.’ No site has been identified.

Your chance to vote

Local people are now asked to vote on which option they would like to see proceed with the council promising a ‘commitment to empower local people to have a direct influence on the delivery of public services in their area.’ The option of a single site campus follows Wiltshire Council’s drive to make the most of the ‘key benefits of co-locating services’, in an effort to ‘secure long term savings in operational costs and environmental efficiencies’.

Although presented only as a concept, the unknown quantity of the single site option was greeted with scepticism at the area board meeting, with one respondent branding it “completely nebulous.”“Without telling people where such a site might be, how can they decide if it’s acceptable or not?” one person commented, while another dismissed the idea straight away as “totally unrealistic.”

But the Community Operations Board has asked residents to consider all three options, asking the town to consider the concept rather than the details, saying that information such as site, budget and a full list of facilities can only take shape at a later stage. A single site campus, they say, would provide the council with savings – which could be used to provide additional, more ambitious facilities.

Mike Parker, of the COB explained, “If we want to keep the pool, the library, and Leighton Recreation centre, where is the income going to come from? If, on the other hand, we decide to go single, if we were going to dispose of one or two of the three sites, income comes in and we develop a business case.”

But initial feedback at the meeting showed that 63% of attendees prefered Option 1; 12% chose Option 2 and only 24% supported Option 3.

Town centre promise

The first round of campus consultation, held earlier this year, also made it clear that people do not want the town centre killed off by an out-of-town campus development. Consequently, the COB defines the single site option as being ‘within accessible and easy reach of the town centre.’ Mike Parker, of the COB, assured residents, “We are not going to put a one-site campus on the edge of town.”

The COB says that ‘any vacated sites would all be found suitable alternative uses to the benefit of improving the prosperity and economic growth of Westbury town centre and community area, as well as maintaining our historic buildings for appropriate uses.’

But the concept of a single site campus, close to the town centre, raised the question of where it could be located. The COB insists that no sites have been identified. However, members of the public at the area board raised the idea of using the hospital site.

Lucy Murray-Brown, head of campus and operational models at Wiltshire Council, suggested that a campus development might be the time for other stakeholders, such as the town council, to consider the shape of the town as a whole.

The future of the swimming pool

It is unclear what would happen to the town’s Victorian swimming pool, a grade II listed building, should option 2 or 3 be chosen. The COB says that a suitable alternative owner or use would have to be found. One suggested use is a community-run arts, culture and heritage centre.

Have your say

Residents are now asked to consider the three options and respond to the consultation. Tara Huntley, of the COB says, “Your opinion is what is going to drive the decision on this.” A paper copy of the consultation is available from various locations across the town, and can be submitted in drop off boxes in locations including the library, town council offices, swimming pool, Leighton Recreation Centre, and the Heritage Centre.

The consultation is also available online at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/westburycommunitycampus

Once the consultation closes, the COB will then present the most popular option to a meeting of the area board. The proposal will then be developed in more detail. Ultimately, the proposal must be approved by Wiltshire Council’s cabinet.