Decision details

Arthur Hill Pool

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decisions:

The Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report providing an update on the former Arthur Hill Swimming Pool and setting out a recommendation that the property be appropriated by the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and developed to provide key worker housing for rent.  The following documents were attached to the report:

 

·         Appendix A: Site plan

·         Appendix B: Appraised development option

 

The report noted that the Committee had agreed to dispose of Arthur Hill Pool at its meeting on 16 July 2018 (Minute 16 refers).  Following a longer than anticipated period of due diligence, and the submission of a reduced unconditional offer by the preferred bidder, it had not been possible to complete the disposal.  External specialist companies had been commissioned to provide updated condition reports at the Arthur Hill site with a focus on the locally listed frontage; the exercise had confirmed negligible levels of chloride and sulphate levels in the concrete, mortar and soil samples tested, providing a positive position on the site.

 

The report explained that, following the discontinuance of the disposal process, the options considered had been to re-market the site for disposal in accordance with the Asset of Community Value process, or for the HRA to appropriate the site for the development of social housing for rent.  The report summarised the two options and recommended appropriation into the HRA to develop and deliver housing for rent, with a focus on key worker accommodation.  This provided the greatest certainty in developing and delivering a cost-effective, sustainable and socially useful scheme for Reading in the shortest possible time, and the location of the site near to key employment sites offered an opportunity to develop housing for key workers.  Another disposal process was considered to be uncertain and would be likely to incur further time, cost and delay in bringing the site back into active use.

 

Attached to the report at Appendix B was a design appraisal for the development of housing on the site. The proposal retained the locally listed frontage with demolition of the remaining building, to accommodate 15 units.  It would take approximately two years to complete the development taking into account the design requirements, level of community engagement involved in the planning process and allowing for any potential unforeseen issues in the construction phase.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, Peter Burt addressed the Committee on this item.  Mr Burt had presented a petition to the meeting requesting that the Council include the possibility of reopening Arthur Hill for leisure, sporting, and community activities in its options review, and consult the public on the future of the site.  The petition had received over 1500 signatures and was due to be debated at the next available full Council meeting.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)     That the current position on the Arthur Hill site, including the updated condition reports, be noted;

 

(2)     That the appropriation of the site into the Housing Revenue Account to enable the Council to develop and deliver housing as key worker accommodation to rent be approved;

 

(3)     That the option to charge an Affordable Rent (80% Market Rent) level for the key worker accommodation developed on the site be approved;

 

(4)     That the Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Assistant Director of Finance, the Assistant Director of Legal & Democratic Services and the Lead Councillor for Housing, be authorised to allocate up to £5m (including contingency) of Housing Revenue Account spend to deliver circa 15 new Council homes at the Arthur Hill site, with spend approval being subject to the proposed development gaining planning permission;

 

(5)     That the Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Assistant Director of Finance, the Assistant Director of Legal & Democratic Services and the Lead Councillor for Housing, be authorised to procure a multi-disciplinary team to carry out all necessary work towards site development, including detailed designs, securing planning permission and assisting in the procurement of a main contractor for the development;

 

(6)     That the Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Assistant Director of Finance, the Assistant Director of Legal & Democratic Services and the Lead Councillor for Housing, be authorised to appoint a main contractor.

Publication date: 08/11/2019

Date of decision: 26/09/2019

Decided at meeting: 26/09/2019 - Policy Committee

Accompanying Documents: