We have been delighted with the hugely positive response to construction work starting on this project. We have collated some answers to the queries that we have received about the project so far below and will continue to keep you informed throughout the construction period.
Q. Where is this happening?
The Westmead Activity Centre is being built on Westmead Playing Field which can be found at the end of Westmead Lane, a short walking distance from Chippenham town centre. The field is a short walk from the town centre car parks and bus station and a 15-minute walk from Chippenham train station.
The centre is being built on a corner of Westmead Playing Field (behind the Wessex water site). The aerial view above might help to place where the Climbing Centre and Skatepark are being built
Q. Doesn’t it flood regularly on Westmead Playing field?
We are fully aware that the field floods and issues of flooding on this site were always at the fore of the design process for this project. A full set of experts in their respective fields have designed drainage, civils, structure, SUDS and storm water management to ensure that the scheme has a net benefit to the flood plain.
The scheme itself is sited in the area least affected by the recent flooding and one of the reasons the project is costing so much to build is its innovative, flood resistant design. It is designed at one and a half meters above the existing field to not only be safe in even the most extreme potential flood scenarios but also provide a net benefit by storing flood water beneath it and within the skate park. In extreme weather conditions the site will be closed for public use.
Q. Don’t the local council own Westmead Playing Field?
Westmead Playing field, the car park at the end of Westmead Lane, Westmead Open Space and its car park all belong to Chippenham Borough Lands Charity. The Westmead Activity Centre is being built on our land.
Q. What is happening to the Scout hut – where will the scouts go?
A. The scouts will still be able to safely access their hut during the construction period. The main construction site is in a corner of the Westmead Playing field and so the hut itself is not affected. We have already been in touch with the Scout leader to provide the relevant health and safety information during the construction period.
Q. Why has it taken so long since planning permission was granted to start the building work?
Planning permission was granted in August 2019. Then we worked on detailed plans, designs and cost estimates with the project put out to tender early 2020. Unfortunately, the initial responses came in substantially over budget.We revisited some of the project costs, which took longer than anticipated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Q. What about the camping for the 2021 Chippenham Folk Festival as they normally use your field for campers?
The Chippenham Folk Festival have been using our land without charge and has been supported by Chippenham Borough Land Grants for many years.
We have been working with the Festival Directors throughout the planning process. They were aware that there might be some restrictions on the field and that the safety of the site and general public would be of paramount importance during the construction period.
The board of directors of Chippenham Folk Festival CIC and their members at an AGM have reluctantly decided that it is unlikely that they will be able to run the usual type of Chippenham Folk Festival in 2021. Several of the activities involve close contact and physical exertion and the directors feel that COVID-19 restrictions on such activities are likely to still be in place next May or any easing will not allow enough time to put on the quality of festival attendees expect.
The directors and staff are committed to returning to the normal style of festival in 2022 and are currently looking at the feasibility of putting on a smaller, covid-safe event in 2021 over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.
We have been long supporters of the Chippenham Folk Festival and we look forward to welcoming the Folk Festival back onto our land in future years when there will be additional facilities on site for the Festival-goers to enjoy during their stay.
Q. Who is paying for the Activity Centre to be built?
The new climbing centre and skatepark is being funded from our charity’s investments together with a £100,000 grant towards the climbing centre from Sport England.
We have investments that generate a budget for us to use for the benefit of Chippenham’s inhabitants. You can read more about the history of our charity on our website here – https://www.cblc.org.uk/our-history/.
Q. Weren’t the original plans for the Westmead Hub more ambitious?
We had originally hoped to add the community hub and other facilities in the same area. Our engagement with the planning authorities concluded that, while we could build a sports facility on an area prone to short-term flooding, this isn’t acceptable for those other purposes. We are still examining alternative ways of providing them, as well as other exciting improvements to Westmead Open Space.
Q. What about parking? Will there be lots of additional cars using Westmead Lane to access the Activity Centre?
There will be limited parking facilities at Westmead Activity centre, reserved for staff and disabled access only. We will be encouraging people to access the site using sustainable transport means. Please note the field is a short walk from the town centre car parks and bus station and a 15-minute walk from Chippenham train station. The site will have full cycle access.
Q. What about increased noise to the area from people using the skatepark?
Any potential noise from the skate park is shielded by buildings and masked by existing levels of traffic noise from Avenue La Fleche