District council office in Mildenhall could be Dome gym’s new home

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Mildenhall’s planned one-stop-shop for services could be a step closer to reality if the Dome fitness gym is granted permission to relocate to new premises.

Anglia Community Leisure (ACL), a charitable trust which manages Mildenhall (Dome) Leisure Centre in partnership with Forest Heath District Council, has applied for a change of use for one of the ground floor wings at the council’s College Heath Road offices.

Its proposal involves converting a redundant office space into a gym and dance studio for it to move into temporarily from October.

A planning statement in support of the application says the move would create enhanced facilities for members, a new purpose-build dance studio, larger gym with more fitness equipment and a free weights area, new changing rooms and showers and increased parking.

Nigel Snape, centre manager, said: “The gym will be in a more central location, next to the library and health centre, and allow greater access for our members to the gym which was restricted at times at the Dome due to the centre sharing facilities with Mildenhall College Academy. Other community use of the Dome in the evenings and at weekends will not be affected.”

The move would likely mean staff having to work across other ACL leisure centres, including those in Brandon and Newmarket, as well as changes to staff rota hours.

Meanwhile, the full-time equivalent of three new fitness instructor posts would be created.

Mr Snape said: “It is hoped that no members of staff will be made redundant, however there is likely to be changes to some staff hours because of the move and staff working across the trust’s leisure facilities.”

Planning approval could mark the first step towards realising the Mildenhall Hub – a cost-cutting partnership project aimed at bringing together a range of public services in the town, which could combine council, police, education, health and leisure.

The council’s preferred option for a single site is the Riverside site in Sheldrick Way, but other ‘split site’ options are being considered ahead of a public consultation, including the council site in College Heath Road.

Cllr James Waters, leader of Forest Heath, said: “These changes are part of our larger vision to create a hub of public services – an idea that we hope will snowball, allowing us to improve services for our community, while keeping the costs to taxpayers down. It’s a brilliant innovative scheme that is taking place here in Mildenhall, and I’m sure other towns outside of West Suffolk will be watching with envy and looking to follow our example.”