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Agenda item

Melksham House

      Report of the Chief Executive.

 

Minutes:

Cllr Phil Alford, Cabinet Member for Housing, Strategic Assets and Asset Transfer presented the report which provided detail about the refurbishment of Melksham House to meet the Council’s obligation to fulfil the Melksham Community Campus planning conditions; the requirement to demolish Melksham Blue Pool; and an overview of a broader objective to establish a Place Board for Melksham and to work in partnership with Melksham Town Council to agree a strategy that realises the potential value of the publicly owned assets in the town.

 

Cllr Alford explained that the re-development of Melksham House is linked to Melksham Community Campus and that planning consent for the occupation of the Campus is conditional on an approved scheme and timescale for the refurbishment of Melksham House. It was noted that the first part of this condition is complete.

 

The report indicated that a budget of £4.2m was included in the capital programme for Melksham House however this was subject to a Levelling up bid being successful. Unfortunately, the bid was not successful and a further £2.2m included in the capital programme for Melksham House is required to complete the works. This would be funded by borrowing. In addition to this borrowing, a further £0.600m was required to demolish Melksham Blue Pool.

 

The Leader acknowledged that the works were necessary as part of the planning conditions and there was a need to complete the works.

 

Cllr Pip Ridout, Chair of the Financial Planning Task Group highlighted that the Task Group had considered the report at their meeting held on 10 December 2021 and confirmed that they were reassured of the options and estimates were sound. The Task Group considered the contingencies, were satisfied that the figures were robust and supported the proposals. Cllr Gavin Grant Vice-Chair of the Task Group commented generally about challenging timelines for the Task Group to consider reports, he requested that the Task Group be given plenty of time to give the necessary scrutiny for future reports.

 

Cllr Ian Thorn commented on the establishment of a Place Board and its potential membership.  The Leader confirmed that the Place Board was established so that Melksham Town Council and Wiltshire Council can steer the strategic development opportunities via a town centre masterplan to ensure the long-term sustainability of the town centre and obtain the maximum return from all publicly owned assets.  It was noted that local MPs had been appointed at other Place Boards and this process had proved to be very successful in the smooth running of the Place Board.

 

Cllr Tony Jackson was concerned about the project exceeding previous budget estimates and suggested that consideration be given to the option of separating from the site and using receipts for another location. Cllr Alford and the Leader agreed with Cllr Jackson that the project was very challenging, although establishing the Place Board would help move the project forward to a successful conclusion.

 

Cllr Gordon King commented on the levelling up agenda and the recent unsuccessful bid. He asked if the additional borrowing was affordable and questioned whether it would impact other projects. Cllr Church confirmed that the £2.2m borrowing requirement was in the budget. The Leader re-confirmed that the works required were part of the planning conditions and time limited. He also noted that borrowing interest rates were currently very low and this was an opportune moment to agree the additional funds.

 

Cllr Jon Hubbard welcomed the concept of a Place Board and encouraged the Cabinet to support the proposals.

 

Cllr Stewart Palmen welcomed the establishment of the Place Boards and suggested that they elect the Chair of the Board.  The Leader explained that other Place Boards had elected the local MP to be Chair and this had proved to be very successful.

 

Resolved:

 

(a)  To note the overview of the consented scheme to redevelop Melksham House for both flexible office, meeting room space and community use;

 

(b)  To approve use of the existing £2.2m budget for Melksham House to deliver the required refurbishments;

 

(c)  To approve an increase to the Capital Receipt Enhancement Budget of £0.6m in 2022/2023 to fund the demolition of Melksham Blue Pool. This will be financed from future capital receipts. This approval will be subject to a valuation to evidence that the asset value would be enhanced by undertaking the demolition.

 

(d)  To approve that a Place Board is established for Melksham town centre;

 

(e)  To approve that Wiltshire Council works with Melksham Town Council to agree a strategy for the publicly held assets within Melksham town centre;

 

(f)   To delegate to the Director for Assets and Commercial Development, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing, Strategic Assets and Asset Transfer to take all necessary steps to implement the refurbishment of Melksham House

 

Reason for Decision:

 

In considering the establishment of the Community Campus in the grounds of Melksham House, the future use of the Grade II listed building is important, both in planning and estate management terms.

A pre-occupation planning condition for Melksham Community Campus requires that Melksham House has a consented scheme with a works timescale.

Design development and cost analysis together with condition surveys has revealed that the House requires significant repairs. The consented scheme cannot be delivered within the £2m budget envelope approved by Cabinet in 2019. The additional capital will ensure that the building can be occupied and is accessible.

The consented scheme includes sustainability technologies to aid carbon reduction and reduced running costs. These costs are included in the current forecast.


Approval to access of the additional budget allocation of £2.2m, and therefore approving of a total budget of £4.2m for Melksham House, will ensure that the Community Campus is able to open as planned by Autumn 2022. 

 

Procurement of the main refurbishment contractor is due to commence in January 2022, requiring confirmation of the additional capital.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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