Students from Mildenhall College Academy have dug the first spades of soil as work begins on a multi million project to build a new school and public services.

Site work has begun today (25 June) on what will become the Mildenhall Hub in Sheldrick Way. An archaeological dig and footpath diversion will take place over the summer ahead of construction. The Mildenhall Hub is scheduled to be open by early 2020.

Susan Byles, Principal of Mildenhall College Academy said: “Our students are delighted to be involved in the start of these groundworks on site. For us this will deliver the school facilities at the heart of the community that the young people of Mildenhall richly deserve as well as better links with the library, the leisure centre and the other public sector partners involved.

“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.”

Edward Thomas, Estates Director for the Academy Transformation Trust, “The Hub has presented Mildenhall college academy and ATT the opportunity to address long standing condition issues and provide a learning environment reflective of the aims, ambitions and ethos of the academy.

“The opportunities for lifelong learning, work experience, future employment and the access to state of the art shared facilities which would not normally be available on a school site will ensure each pupil at Mildenhall receives a first class education and the tools to succeed in their future endeavours.”

As well as a new school building, the £40 million Mildenhall Hub will meet local leisure needs with investment in bigger and better swim and gym facilities for the town and the surrounding area.

Warren Smyth, chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure said: “We are very excited about the development of the hub in Mildenhall. The new provisions planned within leisure will ensure that everyone, regardless of their age, status, background or ability, will have the chance to take part in sport or physical activity, in an environment that is fit for purpose.

“The hub will create opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of local people, by offering top class facilities, working seamlessly with health providers and targeting demographics to encourage those not currently active, such as pregnant women, older people or those living with mental health issues

“By working collaboratively, we will be able to inspire young people to make positive life choices, offer training and employment platforms into the industry, and importantly embed physical activity into the lives of very young children and the whole family unit.”

The Hub will also bring together a health centre, town library, pre-school, adult learning space, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, JobCentre, facilities for the police and room for 150 desks for Suffolk County Council and the new West Suffolk council (which will replace Forest Heath District Council next May).

Cllr James Waters, Leader of Forest Heath which is investing £22 million in the project said: “This is an historic moment – the start of works as we, and our partners, deliver better facilities for the people of Mildenhall and the surrounding area. The buildings that we have dotted around the town now are not all fit for purpose and they would all need substantial investment to stay open.

“The Hub will deliver services that are more accessible for the majority of our residents. Sharing such a facility will also mean that public services will be cheaper to run, and therefore more sustainable against the future financial challenges that we may all face.

“The Mildenhall Hub is the model for how many towns and cities will provide their school, leisure and other public services in the future and I feel it is something that we will look back at in years to come and feel proud of.”

Picture: The start of archaeology on the site of what will become the Mildenhall Hub