Developers are getting ready to bid for a huge plot of land which could shape Melksham’s future.

Cooper Tires, one of Melksham’s biggest and oldest employers, announced in October 2022 that their factory on Bath Road would be closing down by the end of 2023, causing around 350 job losses.

The land, which is the same size as 42 and a half football pitches, has now gone up for sale and the first round of bidding is due to start in January.

An indicative masterplan, released by Cushman and Wakefield, shows that the site is capable of being home to 623 dwellings, and 87,500 square feet of commercial space.

And although it is currently unclear what will be done with the land, local leaders have said that this sale could be a turning point in shaping Melksham’s future.

"Needless to say we are very excited about the possibilities and the future prospects for the people of Melksham," said Councillor Pat Aves.

"There will hopefully be a mix of housing and businesses, with improvements to the riverside which will really bring Melksham into the 21st Century in style."

"No more houses, we need something to attract people here and an increased infrastructure like doctors and dentists," pleaded Wiltshire resident Claire Tucker.

"A retail park would be better and it would provide jobs," she added.

Wiltshire Times: Cooper Tires was one of Melksham's biggest and oldest employers.Cooper Tires was one of Melksham's biggest and oldest employers. (Image: Trevor Porter)

Other suggestions made by locals include riverside housing, employment space, bowling alleys, cinemas, shops and green spaces.

The Cooper Tires factory site, which will close in December 2023, is split in two by the River Avon.

One site is made up of 30 acres of brownfield land as well as Avon House, a Grade II listed building.

Another 38.5 acres of greenfield land is also up for sale opposite the factory, running alongside the River Avon and King George V Park.

“The landowner’s preference is to sell the site unconditionally as a whole, but will consider selling the parcels separately on an unconditional or subject to planning (STP) basis,” said a spokesperson for the real estate company Cushman and Wakefield, who are managing the sale.

Amidst discussion about what the land could become, councillors have also pointed out that consultation for the Neighbourhood Plan is currently taking place and residents wanting their say about the shape of the town's future should take part.

The first round of bids for Cooper Tires' land is due to begin at 12pm on Friday, January 19, 2024 and the landowners hope to select a buyer by the end of February 2024.