Wiltshire Publications

No end in sight for Westbury campus wait

THEwait for a new town campus may be even longer than previously thought, after it emerged that Westbury has not been included in Wiltshire Council’s second phase of funding.

White Horse News was last week sent council documents dated 7th July 2015 which showed that Westbury Community Campus is still undergoing a ‘feasibility study’, meaning local residents may have to wait even longer for their new leisure facilities.

The development comes as a blow after just weeks ago, member of the community campus team, cllr David Jenkins, said he was hoping Westbury would be included in this second phase despite problems with funding in phase one.

It has since been revealed that the second tranche of the £80million  pot is instead scheduled to be allocated to campuses in Calne, Cricklade, Tilbury and Pewsey.

Plans for Westbury Community Campus, revealed at a public exhibition in December last year, include redevelopment of the library, swimming pool and Leighton Recreation Centre. Improved facilities for young people and artificial sports pitches were also on the agenda.

Despite the recent information, cllr Jenkins says that planning work is continuing on Westbury’s campus project.

He said, “Currently the  Westbury Community Campus team is working diligently with a designated Wiltshire Council officer to build a scoping study to support the business case.

“This activity will contribute towards the preparation and promotion of the campus at the appropriate time.

“As far as I’m aware, the cabinet has yet to agree when phase two will be available and when Westbury will have funds allocated to develop the full business case.

“My view is, however, that it’s unlikely  the cabinet will announce phase two until after the next local Wiltshire government election in 2017.”

Town councillor Russell Hawker confirmed his understanding that funds would continue to be allocated to the Westbury project.

Cllr Hawker said, “Westbury campus has simply not yet been worked up into a full business case and cabinet has not yet had a chance to approve it.

“The [documents] show where things got to when phase two was frozen –  when the money for phase two ran out some weeks ago.

“My understanding is that we are all waiting for cabinet to announce when phase two will reopen for business and when Westbury will be advanced funds to build the business case within phase two.”

An official statement from a Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “The first two phases of the council’s £80million campus programme were approved in 2011/12 with budget allocated to deliver seven campuses across the county. Phase 1 approved Corsham, Melksham and Salisbury and phase 2 approved Calne, Cricklade, Pewsey and Tisbury. Of the seven campuses, three are currently being built and work is under way to start on the others.

“Our aim is to enable local communities to become stronger and we have encouraged their involvement in looking at where campuses and/or community hubs could be located to host a range of services and activities to meet local needs.

“The community group in Westbury, that was set up by the local area board, is currently undertaking a feasibility study looking at future provision in the town and surrounding area. This could include a community hub model at the library and the group is also looking at the town’s leisure provision for the future. John Thomson, as the lead member for campuses, has met with the group taking this work forward and has encouraged the feasibility study to identify the opportunities for the provision of services and facilities that the local community has identified are needed.”