The Leader introduced the report and highlighted to Members that the Overview and Scrutiny Board has also pre-scrutinised this report and put forward the following recommendation, which Members should consider, “that option 1 – Bird Box high quality is approved with the caveat that Cabinet reconsider the temporary nature of the project and make it a permanent feature on the Market Hall site.”
The Head of North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR) introduced the report and highlighted the following areas within the report:
· Background information in respect of the site and the circumstances leading to the current position.
· The report contained a number of temporary and permanent solutions.
· Examples of similar interventions and the types of events that the pop up units could be used for.
· The engagement of a professional team to look at the permanent use for this site and the old Dolphin Centre site.
· The rationale had been to provide a number of options for Members to consider in order for the site to be development in line with the Council’s strategic objectives, whilst generating an income stream.
Again, the Leader invited those Members observing the meeting to join in the debate which followed, when a number of areas were discussed in more detail, including:
· As the previous item considered by the Cabinet had highlighted the lack of land for development, why this site could not be used for such purposes.
· Whether temporary use would impact and disadvantage current premises in the High Street, and what impact temporary use had on rent and Council tax paid. It was confirmed that a pop up unit would not impact on Council tax.
· It was not possible to give an estimate of the income that may be generated from such the pop ups at this stage.
· The idea would be for the pop up units to be used for a weekend or a few days not as a permanent feature for a number of months.
· They would provide creative spaces for people to use for a variety of events and were not expected to be seen as “competition” to the current premises in the High Street, but more as something which would complement the current provision.
· It was hoped that the units would be used to promote small local businesses and encourage them to develop.
· Work would begin shortly and it was hoped it would be up and running by 2020, depending on the option chosen.
· The potential to review the matter further down the line should it be successful.
In respect of the recommendation from the Overview and Scrutiny Board, following the debate, Members were of the view that it would not be appropriate at this stage to make the preferred option a permanent feature on the site.
a) that the report and the three options appraised in it for the temporary use of the former Market Hall site be noted; and
b) that the recommendation from the Overview and Scrutiny Board be noted.
a) that the approval of Option 1 as the preferred option be implemented and a release of £110k from balances to meet the required remaining funding for 2019/20; and
b) that delegated authority to the Chief Executive, following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, the Town Centre and Strategic Partnerships to implement Option 1 be approved.