Please note: Included within this report (Appendix A – page 187), and printed on grey paper, is exempt information, which is not for disclosure to the press and public by virtue of Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).
If this is to be debated, the Cabinet will be asked to consider it in camera, having first resolved to exclude any members of the press or public present.
(Link to Council Priorities: All)
The Portfolio Holder for Resources introduced the report and reminded colleagues that in June 2016, a sum of £1,789,000 had been agreed and set aside for the refurbishment and conversion of Weybridge Hall. Having considered a number of possible uses for the Hall, the use as a cinema on the ground floor had been explored which it was felt would enhance and regenerate that end of Weybridge High Street.
In this regard, Members noted that since June 2016, additional work had been undertaken which included full surveys of the current building; a full design of the scheme to enable planning permission to be obtained; and the potential identification of a preferred cinema operator for the ground floor.
To enable delivery of the project, the Portfolio Holder advised that a decision had been made to work with Kier Construction (Southern) through the SCAPE Minor Works Framework which would protect the Council throughout the pre-construction stage and full construction of the scheme as well as having the appropriate indemnities and warranties in place. It was noted that by utilising the SCAPE procurement route, the contract value had increased by 0.5%. To date, the pre-construction costs had been in the region of £225,000. This cost had been essential to ensure the design met the planning requirements and complex issues such as acoustics.
The Cabinet noted that as part of the planning process and to enable the exact costings for the scheme to be identified, various surveys had been undertaken as part of the pre-construction work. As a result of this work, a number of aspects of the scheme had to be changed in order to make it planning permission compliant. This included the number of affordable units being reduced from six units to five units; the employment of an acoustics consultant given the use of the ground floor as a cinema; the establishment of a Noise Management Plan; and the discovery of a large amount of asbestos throughout the building.
In light of the pre-construction work, the Portfolio Holder reported that in March 2018, full planning permission had been granted to convert Weybridge Hall into a cinema on the ground floor with 5 affordable units on the upper floors.
An update in respect of the building and construction costs was also provided and Members noted that whilst the number of units had gone down from six to five, there had been an 8% percentage increase on the construction costs for the residential element. In addition, with regard to the cinema conversion, the construction costs had increased by 16% to cover the acoustic panelling and the podia for the seats.
The Portfolio Holder reported that now the revised costs had been submitted, which included both the preliminaries; design fees; overheads and profit; provisional sum; and pre-construction work; the actual additional cost to the revised scheme was £510,000. This sum equated to an additional £285,600 for the cinema element and £224,400 for the residential aspect.
During consideration of the report, the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport commented that Weybridge Hall had been under-utilised and its condition continued to decline. As works had commenced on site, he considered that the project should continue given that it would enhance and help to regenerate Weybridge High Street.
The Leader then invited Councillor N. Houston, a Long Ditton Ward Councillor, to address the meeting. Councillor Houston raised concern about the cinema element of the project and queried what the implications would be to the Council if the prospective cinema operator was to withdraw from the lease. With regard to the residential element of the project, he also queried the legal position in respect of the Right to Buy Scheme. In response to the concern regarding the cinema operator, the Leader advised that any operator would be making a capital contribution to the fit out of the cinema and therefore would have a commercial incentive to make it work for them. If the cinema proved to be commercially unsuccessful, protection for the Council would be included within the legal agreement and associated documentation. In respect of the query regarding the Right to Buy Scheme, the Strategic Director and Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that as a result of the proposed transfer of residential properties to the housing company (such body not being a local authority landlord), no statutory Right to Buy would arise.
(a) following the grant of the planning permission for 4 x one bed and 1 x two bed affordable units and a cinema, it be noted that the total cost of the project had increased to £2,300,000 and that the additional sum of £510,000 would be added to the 2018/19 Capital Programme;
(b) a New Engineering Contract (NEC) design and build contract with Kier be signed for the sum as highlighted in Appendix A of the report (Part II) in respect of the overall construction costs for the scheme; and
(c) an element of this additional sum be funded from the Affordable Housing Enabling Fund in respect of the residential element at a figure of £650,000 (an increase of £230,000) with the balance of £1,200,000 (an increase of £280,000) from Capital receipts which relates to the cinema and part residential element.