WORKS to redevelop the former college site at Five Acres into a £9 million community and leisure facility are gathering pace, with the council bringing on board a leading consultancy to assist with designs for the first phase.

The demolition of most of the old college buildings is now complete, meaning that the designs for the new facility - which is being built thanks to the council’s successful Levelling Up Fund bid last year - can now be progressed and finalised before construction begins.

The initial plans for the build were made public after the funding was confirmed in October, with a community drop-in event held to give locals a say on what facilities they would like to see at the centre.

Now, the council has bought leading property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard on board to further the design process, and plan to hold further consultation with residents as the designs progress.

Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Paul Hiett, said: “Bringing this specialist team on board is a huge moment in the regeneration of the Five Acres site at Berry Hill.

“Pick Everard are well renowned national design consultants and have worked on many similar leisure led projects across the UK, so we’re very excited to work alongside them to deliver the best facility for our residents.

“We understand that the development of Five Acres needs to be something that works for the local community and we’ll be holding further discussions and drop-in events so that residents can have their say on the emerging designs. This will be communicated across our website and social media in due course.

“I’d like to personally thank all staff and officers who have been involved in the project so far and look forward to seeing the progression at Five Acres.”

UK-wide consultancy Pick Everard has previously worked on the design and development of various “world class” facilities, including the state-of-the-art sports park at the University of South Wales.

The initial plans for Five Acres include the refurbishment and extension of the existing Speedwell Building to provide community, leisure and business space, indoor and outdoor sports facilities and an outreach education centre for Hartpury University and College.

Cllr Hiett added of the progress made so far: ““There has been significant progress since completing the purchase of the site in December 2021 and the planned demolition and clearance phase has now been finished.

“The 1960’s buildings and foundations on site contained asbestos that has been removed safely and responsibly by the demolition contractor, Armac Demolition and we can now begin the detailed design process and look forward to engaging with local people.”