The Executive Director Neighourhoods and Communities submitted a report outlining the salient points of the business case for the Community Asset Transfer of Mill Hill playing fields to Raw Foundation and sought approval for the transfer to proceed.
To promote community-led regeneration and to support the increasingly robust Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector, the Council recognised the benefits of transferring surplus assets to community management.
To support increased community management of assets, Executive Sub-Committee for Property approved the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) policy on 3 February 2012. The standard terms of CAT were for a 25-year lease, under which the tenant was responsible for repairs, maintenance and running costs.
The Mayors budget proposals for 2012/13 included the closure of Mill Hill pavilion. A condition survey was undertaken and found the pavilion to be in a poor state of repair so demolition was recommended. The pavilion was subsequently demolished and a temporary cabin was provided on site to ensure the current users could continue playing on the site.
In February 2012, six sites, including Mill Hill, were listed on the Council website as available for CAT, with a two-week window for Expressions of Interest.
The Expression of Interest (EoI) period ended on 29th February and EoIs were received from Raw Foundation in partnership with Cleveland Juniors Football Club and Boro Rangers Football Club. Both EoIs sought transfer of the playing fields but only the Raw Foundations bid included the construction of a new pavilion. Without a new pavilion, junior football would cease on the site in the long term.
The EoIs were evaluated and Raw Foundation was therefore recommended as the most viable. On 13th March 2012 CMT selected the CATs to proceed to business case stage, and that included Raw Foundation for Mill Hill.
A business case had since been developed by Raw Foundation to demonstrate that the proposal to take over the site was sustainable. The terms of the transfer was a 25-year lease, where responsibility for repairs, maintenance and running costs all sat with the tenant. The business case is outlined in further detail within the report.
The report outlined that there were three options available:
Option 1: Do nothing - not recommended. The pavilion had been demolished due to its poor state of repair and the site was now serviced by a temporary cabin. This was not a long term solution and doing nothing would mean that, due to the lack of changing provision, junior football would be lost on the site. The transfer enabled a new pavilion to be built, junior football to continue and other sports to continue. Transfer of the site would save the Council £30k pa in annual maintenance costs and help to deliver the Governments Big Society agenda at a local level. For the reasons outlined in paragraph 29 and 30 of the report, this option had been rejected.
Option 2: Transfer the site to Cleveland Juniors. This option would offer a simpler arrangement than the proposal to lease to Raw Foundation who then subsequently sub-let to Cleveland Juniors who would manage the site. However, as they were not a charity, Cleveland Juniors were not eligible to apply for a significant proportion of the funding for the new pavilion. Raw Foundation was eligible to apply and so to ensure the grant funding could be sought, this option was rejected. To mitigate any operational issues that may have arose from this arrangement, a Service Level Agreement would be put in place between the Council and Cleveland Juniors.
Option 3: Asset transfer the site to Raw Foundation - recommended. This option enabled the retention of the site for use by the local community, as well as the long term development of the site by a local Junior Football Club. Transfer of the site would save the Council £30k pa in annual maintenance costs and help to deliver the Governments Big Society agenda at a local level.For the reasons outlined in paragraphs 34 and 35 of the report, the transfer of the site to Raw Foundation was the preferred option.
The next stage, if approval to proceed were received was a 25-year lease for the transfer of Mill Hill playing fields to Raw Foundation, in line with the terms set out within the report, would be agreed and be in place by early December 2012. Agreement of a lease for the site was the first milestone towards the construction of the new pavilion. Once the lease was in place, Raw Foundation would submit an application for funding to meet the Football Foundations deadline of 7th December 2012. The other funding streams were already either confirmed or agreed in principle, pending confirmation of the lease.
During the discussion it was pointed out that the transfer would still be sustainable even if the building of the new pavilion did not go ahead.
That the transfer of Mill Hill playing fields to Raw Foundation be approved.
The decision was supported by the following reasons:
To secure the full annual saving through ceasing to maintain the site.
To enable Raw Foundation to secure funds to construct a new pavilion at no cost to the Council.
To contribute to a robust VCS sector.
To secure a valuable community facility for Mill Hill for the medium to long-term.