CHIPPENHAM MP Michelle Donelan says there’s “great potential” to create a vibrant quarter for leisure and business in Melksham’s Avonside area following a meeting with its owners.

The Avonside area has been hosting a popular street food pop-up event and an artisan outdoor market recently in a bid to make the most of its River Avon side location.

The MP recently met with Ricky Humphreys, a director of Create Real Estate, the owners of Avonside, to understand more about their exciting plans for the riverside site.

The MP said: “Melksham has great potential. The population of the town and the surrounding area has grown rapidly in recent years so there is a much larger market for leisure and hospitality businesses than 20 years ago.

“I really think there is a fantastic opportunity at Avonside because of its waterfront position and the iconic tower that makes the site stand out.

“I want to support enthusiastic business leaders to deliver their visions that improve life for the people of Melksham and the surrounding area, and I think a quality retail and leisure facility would really bring people back into the town centre.”

Mr Humphreys added: We were thrilled to share our vision for Avonside with Michelle, who like us is excited by the huge potential of this perfectly located, riverside setting.

“We are working to create a vibrant new quarter for both leisure and business which welcomes and celebrates independents and offers a unique culture and atmosphere. We’re delighted to have Michelle’s support.”

In her meeting, Miss Donelan discussed the strategic location of the site, the riverfront potential and the opportunity to improve the retail and leisure offer in Melksham.

While Melksham’s population has grown rapidly in recent years, the infrastructure and facilities of the town have struggled to keep pace.

In particular, Melksham is recognised as having less leisure and hospitality offering per head of the population than comparative towns.

Miss Donelan said that she’s delighted to see Create Real Estate’s investment and vision for Avonside and is keen to see this approach taken to other town centre locations.

The MP has been engaging with local residents and businesses to inform bids for government investment in Melksham under the Levelling Up Fund.

She is seeking the views of Melksham residents, businesses and community groups as she leads on submitting a bid to improve Melksham town centre.

She says Avonside is at the heart of one of the areas identified as having strong potential to become a new cultural and leisure quarter for the town.

Miss Donelan has also called on small businesses in west Wiltshire to contact her as she works to remove barriers to growth and encourage growth in the local economy.