The Executive Member for Culture and Communities, Executive Member for Finance and Governance and the Executive Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure submitted a report, the purpose of which was to set out the future options for community provision, the artificial grass pitch and the existing building, in light of the previous decision to close the Southlands Centre and provide a new fit-for-purpose community facility in East Middlesbrough.
The Executive Sub Committee for Property on 20th April 2018 agreed the closure of the Southlands Centre over a six month period, with a consultation process required regarding a new fit-for-purpose community facility on or near the Southlands site. The decision was subsequently called in, with Overview and Scrutiny Board deciding on 11th May 2018 not to refer the decision back to the Executive Sub Committee for Property.
The report of 20th April noted that a further report would be prepared for September, setting out the future options.
An officer project group was therefore set up to consider the following:
a. decanting of existing licensees / community groups;
b. community engagement on a future fit-for-purpose community facility;
c. future of existing current artificial grass pitch;
d. potential demolition of the existing Southlands buildings; and,
e. future development options for the Southlands site.
This report covered the outcomes of the work undertaken on b), c) and d). Each of these was considered in turn within the report.
The options and costs associated with the options were outlined at paragraph 18 of the report.
That the Executive Sub Committee for Property:
notes the outcome of the recent community engagement exercise and approves the option to build a new fit-for-purpose community facility on the Southlands site;
approves the retention and refurbishment of the existing artificial grass pitch on the Southlands site;
approves the demolition of the existing buildings on the Southlands site; and,
receives a further report in December 2018, setting out development options for the site cleared of existing buildings as well as fully costed proposals in respect of the fit-for-purpose community facility, and the refurbishment of the artificial grass pitch.
The decision was supported by the following reasons:
The cost of providing a refurbished community facility off-site, and a new artificial grass pitch in an alternative location would potentially be up to £1.6m (£0.6m+£1.0m), with on-site options forecast to cost around £1.5m (£1.2m+£0.3m). Although potentially cheaper, the on-site option reduces the potential developable area by four acres (29%), with any potential capital receipt reducing accordingly.
Although a full financial appraisal might recommend that moving the two elements off-site would maximise the financial balance of the decision, the value of land in the area is relatively limited (even for housing), so the difference is unlikely to be unpalatable. It is therefore recommended that the benefits of addressing the community needs identified would outweigh any potential difference in capital receipts.
The need for a fit-for-purpose community facility and its location on the Southlands site was evidenced through the outcome of the community engagement exercise. This facility has a positive impact in terms of community cohesion and health outcomes in East Middlesbrough.
In summary, providing the two identified elements on-site would provide an appropriate balance between addressing community needs, and the potential receipt available from the remainder of the land.