Councillors back appointment of builder for new community centre

The Medway Centre, in Huntingdon.

The Medway Centre, in Huntingdon. - Credit: Archant

Building work on a replacement for Huntingdon’s Medway Centre could get under way in January after councillors voted to appoint a contractor this week.

Huntingdon Town Council met on Thursday to discuss approving one of four tenders put forward to complete the building.

Councillors were recommended to approve a bid for £1.76million put forward for the build by Timberworks Europe and resolved to do so following a vote.

Councillor Tom Sanderson said: “I think this will be a good investment for the community. It’s not just about the Medway, this is about Coneygear Park, it’s about enhancing the park.”

Cllr Sanderson said building the new centre on Coneygear Park was the right move and added that it would add some much-needed new facilities.

In a report to councillors, town council officers noted: “Timberworks Europe has provided a very detailed quotation and met the full specification. They were a well-established company with vast experience of building schools, community centres and other public buildings.

“They could also mobilise and start construction in January 2019 with a completion date of July 2019. This would give the quickest start to the project and enable the new building to be completed in time for the busy summer period.”

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The proposed new community centre would be built on a parcel of land in Coneygear Park, with the former Medway Centre demolished.

In 2016, the town council looked at the cost of refurbishing the Medway Centre and came back with a projected figure of £655,000. Though cheaper than the cost of a new build, the council said the cost of material, labour and fuel “have all risen substantially, and this figure will only increase”.

The council report noted: “The town council decided with no identified budget for refurbishment and taking account that the centre would have to close for 12 months if the refurbishment route was taken. Leading to the potential loss of users and taking away a facility where community groups may not be able to find an alternative facility, restoration was not an option.”

The town council said £300,000 of the build cost would come from the proceeds of an asset swap with Huntingdonshire District Council, which formally owned the land on which the Medway Centre, which is more than 40 years old, stands. A further £800,000 loan was negotiated with the district council as part of the swap deal, which saw the district took control of the land that One Leisure Huntingdon stands on.

It is not clear at this stage where the remaining funds for the build would be found.