Mildenhall Hub win prestigious awards
20 May 2022
A nationally recognised ground-breaking initiative to improve the health, well-being and education for the community has won its second award in as many weeks.
Mildenhall Hub, which only opened last summer, has been named The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) East of England Winner for best public sector project in its annual awards. It will now compete in the national awards final in October. And last week the Hub won best commercial building in the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Suffolk Craftsmanship Awards.
The hub has brought together a new school, new gym, fitness studios and 3G pitch, swimming pools and sports hall, a new town library, health centre, children’s centre, Citizens Advice West Suffolk and job centre. The Hub in Sheldrick Way also includes office space used by the NHS, police, Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Council.
Nicola Hood, Principal of Mildenhall College Academy, said: “The new school within the hub is a great learning environment and one where the students and staff are proud to come into school each day. Being part of the Hub also offers us so much more in terms of the work that we can do with leisure, the library and the other organisations using the building. It’s been an amazing first year for us – we love the hub and so it is brilliant to see it recognised this way.”
On behalf of all the many hub partners, Cllr Jo Rayner, Cabinet Member for Community Hubs at West Suffolk Council, said: “The hub is about the people of Mildenhall and the surrounding area, not just now but for the future. Its success isn’t just about better school, leisure and other facilities both now and for the future; it is as much about how the people who work at the hub collaborate for the benefit of residents. Residents can come in and use a range of services in a single journey, while the hub is delivering environmental and economical savings through the old, outdated buildings it has replaced. It is a real winner for the local community and it is fantastic to see it, and the work of the design and construction professionals who worked on it, recognised with these awards.”
Councillor Matthew Hicks, the leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “In the short time since it opened last year Mildenhall Hub has quickly established itself as a valuable community asset, so I am very pleased to see that the impact it has made has been formally recognised in this way. On behalf of Suffolk County Council, I congratulate everyone involved in making it such a success.”
Charles Coulson, Associate Director, Concertus Design and Property Consultants which nominated the project for the award, said: “Mildenhall Hub is a national exemplar project and we’re delighted that it has been able to play a part in regenerating the area by supporting the growth of businesses, providing employment opportunities, and attracting people who are keen to use the remarkable facilities. We’re thrilled that the hard work of all those involved has been recognised by RICS and RIBA. We’re so proud of the team who delivered this unique project and worked so hard to make our client’s vision a reality.”
In the first year, Abbeycroft Leisure who manage the leisure facilities on West Suffolk Council’s behalf, has seen footfall and membership increase by 70 per cent on pre-COVID levels. The number of students in its swim scheme has also increased by 50 per cent again compared to pre-COVID levels.
And health partners including West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust adult and paediatric community health teams are seeing benefits to patient care by working collaboratively with other services. Abbeycroft has been able to offer specialist classes at the hub as a direct result of working alongside the pulmonary rehab and hub based physio teams, helping patients recovering from a cardiac event to regain their confidence and learn how to maintain their fitness.
The hub has also enabled families to attend community paediatric speech and language therapy rather than having to go to Bury St Edmunds, while having a library on-site has also proven important.
One of the residents benefitting from the Hub is Marilyn Badger from Mildenhall. She was referred into the Breathe Better class and also attends the Knit and Natter session in the library. Marilyn said: "My breathing has improved so much with the exercises I’m doing and I’m not as breathless anymore. I literally march into the car park when I’ve finished feeling so wonderful. I love having everything in one building and just the other day, I came from my blood test appointment and within two minutes I was in my Knit and Natter session, so I’m over the moon with The Hub.”
In the past year, the library has increased the activities on offer to the local community. It became the first library in Suffolk to introduce a children’s therapy dog reading session. It has worked with other partners within the building, including the Jobcentre and Abbeycroft Leisure to deliver one-off events. And the library has also supplied written-off children’s stock to both the speech and language therapists and the job centre for their clients.
The library also experienced a big increase in members and items issued compared to pre-pandemic when it was in its old building in Chestnut Close. There has been a 48 percent increase in items issued and a 54 percent increase in new library members, with over 700 new members joining between its hub opening on 1 June 2021 and the end of March this year.
The £40m plus hub was funded by West Suffolk Council, Education and Skills Funding Agency, Academy Transformation Trust, Suffolk County Council, the National Lottery, through Sport England, and the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, and is recognised as a significant project in the Government’s national One Public Estate Programme.
It was designed by Concertus Design and Property Consultants and built by RG Carter with project management from Currie and Brown.
The Mildenhall Hub will now go through to the RICS national final in October. For more on the hub visit www.mildenhallhub.info
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