Agenda and draft minutes

Economy Committee - Tuesday 16th April 2024 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, BN17 5LF. View directions

Contact: Carley Lavender 

Media

Items
No. Item

762.

Apology for Absence

Minutes:

An Apology for Absence had been received from Councillor Northeast.

763.

Declarations of Interest

Members and Officers are invited to make any declaration of pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests that they may have in relation to items on this agenda, and are reminded that they should re-declare their interest before consideration of the items or as soon as the interest becomes apparent.

 

Members and Officers should make their declaration by stating:

 

a)             the item they have the interest in

b)             whether it is a pecuniary/personal interest and/or prejudicial interest

c)             the nature of the interest

 

Minutes:

The following Councillors made Declarations of a Personal Interest as set out below:

 

·       Councillor Walsh in relation to agenda Item 6 [Arun/WSCC Growth Deal], as a Member of West Sussex County Council; Item 9 [Refurbishment of the Former Brewers Fayre] as a Member of Littlehampton Town Council, Agenda Item 10 [Additional Beach Huts] as a Member of Littlehampton Town Council and Agenda Item 13 [Harbour Park Lease Negotiations] as a Member of Littlehampton Town Council.

·       Councillors Nash and Needs in relation to Agenda Item 9 [Refurbishment of the Former Brewers Fayre] as Members of Bognor Regis Town Council.

764.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 1 February 2024 were approved by the Committee as a correct record and were signed by the Chair.

 

765.

ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA THAT THE CHAIR OF THE MEETING IS OF THE OPINION SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS A MATTER OF URGENCY BY REASON OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Minutes:

Although the Chair confirmed that there were no urgent items for the meeting to consider, he confirmed that he wished to pass on his and the Committee’s thanks to  Denise Vine, Group Head of Business and Economy, and Neil Taylor, Regeneration Consultant, for their work especially on regeneration projects as this was the last meeting of the Committee that they would be attending before they left the Council. 

 

766.

Public Question Time

To receive questions from the public (for a period of up to 15 minutes)

 

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that no public questions had been submitted for this meeting.

767.

Arun / WSCC Growth Deal Refresh pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To advise members of the refreshed Arun Growth Deal 2024-29 and seek their approval.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Group Head of Business and Economy advising them of the refreshed Arun Growth Deal for 2024 to 2029 which they were being asked to approve. Members were also being asked to support the Arun Growth Deal Programme Board. The Committee was reminded that the first Arun Growth Deal covering the period 2018 to 2023 had been approved by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) in 2018.  Since that time WSCC and Arun had been working together to deliver what they saw as priority projects in the district. The agreement between the two Councils had enabled significant projects to progress locally, the detail of which had been set out in Appendix B.

 

            What was being proposed now was a refreshed Growth Deal which had the shared aim to create better places for residents by using public resources and assets more effectively and efficiently to support sustainable economic growth in the Arun district.  The new Arun Growth Deal for 2024 to 2029 had been attached to the report as Appendix A. A review of the previous Growth Deal and its impact was set out in Appendix B. This demonstrated how working jointly and in partnership with WSCC had made it possible to progress key projects locally and also attract funding for those projects.

 

Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Stanley and seconded by Councillor Needs, the Chair invited questions from Members.

 

In discussing the report, one Councillor confirmed that although he welcomed the new Growth Deal, he was not entirely sure what the deal was as the Appendix appeared to be just a list of projects that Arun and WSCC were delivering. He asked what the deal was and whether this meant that one project would not develop further unless the other partner completed their prioritisation process. That Councillor also asked what was new about the Growth Deal as it appeared to be just a project list.  Turning to that list, concern was expressed over the fact that apart from projects listed for the Bognor Regis and Littlehampton areas,  there appeared to be little mention of projects for the remaining areas within the district.

 

In response, the Chair confirmed that the Growth Deal was an Arun wide project wherever the confirmed projects were located and that each potential project was treated as a priority. The Chair then invited the Group Head of Economy to comment.

 

The Group Head of Business and Economy provided some history behind the Growth Deal and how the Council and WSCC had worked hard to achieve a common understanding as to what the priority projects would be. With the first Growth Deal this had demonstrated that this common understanding had developed into discussions and negotiations resulting in the Council receiving a sizeable contribution to finish elements of the Littlehampton Public Realm Phase 1 project and similarly with the Esplanade along the seafront at Bognor Regis. That joint working had generated benefits and a common understand in ways of prioritising projects.

 

Looking  ...  view the full minutes text for item 767.

768.

UK Shared Prosperity Fund pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To update the committee on our progress of Arun’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocation.  Outlining year one and year two projects and provide an overview for year three projects coming forward.

 

Minutes:

The Committee received a joint report from the Group Head of Business and Economy and the Economic Regeneration Project Officer which provided an update on progress made with Arun’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocation by providing an outline on year one and two projects and by providing an overview for year three projects coming forward.

 

            The Committee was reminded that the Council had been allocated £1,083 m by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to spend on local projects and it was reported that 100 per cent of the allocation awarded had been spent on projects. The Committee was being requested to note the completed year one and year two projects and projects agreed for year three. It was also being asked to approve that officers pursue additional UKSPF funding should this become available from central government.

 

Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Stanley and seconded by Councillor Walsh, the Chair invited questions from Members.

 

A request was made by a  Member of the Committee for Members to receive the full detail of the completed projects as submitted to the panel and partnership group. The Economic Regeneration Project Officer confirmed that he would arrange for members to receive the full appraisal details of these projects.

 

As proposer to the recommendations, Councillor Stanley congratulated Officers for their work and considering the number of projects that had been delivered and in terms of those that were planned. This outlined the effective stakeholder working that the council was undertaking with Town and Parish Councils.

 

The Committee

 

            RESOLVED

 

(1)          That it noted the completed year one and year two projects and projects agreed for year three; and

 

(2)          Approval be given to Officers to pursue any additional UKSPF funding should this become available from central government where in the opinion of officers the conditions of grant are considered reasonable. This includes approving acceptance to receive and allocate in accordance with the existing and approved investment plan.

 

 

769.

Bognor Regis Arcade Update pdf icon PDF 154 KB

The report is to update members on the progress of the project to refurbish the upper floors of the Bognor Regis arcade to provide new residential accommodation.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Regeneration Consultant updating Members on the progress of the project to refurbish the upper floors of the Bognor Regis Arcade to provide 36 new residential units for private renting. Members were reminded that the Council had been allocated a grant under the Government’s Brownfield Land Release Fund in the sum of £628k towards the cost with Full Council agreeing to allocate the rest of the capital budget to the project.

 

The Regeneration Consultant confirmed that the early works in terms of design had been around enabling works. In progressing the project, it had been important to ensure that the grant allocated had been spent on appointing a contractor for the enabling works and this had taken place last week.  HP Contracts had been appointed and they would start work in the next few weeks but at this stage were familiarising themselves with the detail of this complex project. The next stage would be to push forward to RIBA stage 2 and 3 design which would involve the submission of a planning application which was expected towards autumn and would require the need for another public consultation event to be held.

 

In thanking the Regeneration Consultation for his update report, the Chair asked if the project was on budget and if any hidden surprises were anticipated? It was confirmed that currently the budget was in order, however, it was very difficult to predict or confirm that there would not be any hidden problems as the project progressed.

 

The Chair then invited questions from Members.

 

In the absence of questions from the Committee, a non-Committee Member was permitted to address the meeting. That Member requested to receive reassurance in terms of the dialogue taking place between the project team and the business tenant who had been experiencing difficulties with the toilets for some of the units on the first floor which had not been functioning properly for a while. A request was also made to mend the clock on the northern face of the arcade which had not been functioning either. 

 

In response, the Regeneration Consultant provide reassurance that liaison between the project team and the business tenant was taking place and that the Council’s Property and Estate’s team, through agents, were addressing any maintenance issues. He would ensure that they received these comments.

 

The Committee then noted the update report provided.

 

770.

Refurbishment of the former Brewers Fayre pdf icon PDF 116 KB

The purpose of this report is to provide feasibility information to Members in respect of the conversion of the former Brewers Fayre pub into a multi-use public venue.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Prior to the commencement of this item, Councillors Needs and Nash redeclared their  Personal Interests made at the commencement of the meeting.  Councillor Stanley also declared a Personal Interest as a Member of Bognor Regis Town Council.)

 

The Committee received a report from the Regeneration Consultant explaining that as part of the agreement to take over the lease on the Alexandra Theatre from Whitbread Plc the Council had also occupied the Brewers Fayre pub and there had been many discussions since as to what the council should do with that space. This report provided feasibility information to Members in respect of the conversion of the former Brewers Fayre pub into a multi-use public venue.

 

 Ridge Consulting had been commissioned to prepare the feasibility study with a briefing for Members having been held on 28 March 2024 to work through some of the proposals that had been the subject of the feasibility study which had been attached for Members’ information as an appendix to the report.  Before Members were a series of  recommendations to approve which would confirm the next phases of this project.

 

To assist Members who might not have been able to attend the briefing on 28 March 2024, the Regeneration Consultant confirmed that three options had been explained, these were:

 

·         Option 1 – which was the refurbishment of the building into a multi-use facility that would become an integral part of the theatre;

·         Option 2 – would see the building refurbished into a stand-alone multi-use facility with its own kitchen and toilet, intended to be managed by its own management;

·         Option 3 – looked to see the building semi rebuilt to align architecturally with the theatre next door so included work to make it look more in keeping with surroundings – the way in which the theatre would look upon completion of all works;

·         A further Option 3a – which had not been part of this study but put forward as a suggestion so that all possibilities could be evaluated for the Regis Centre car park, this would see the demolition of the existing building and replacement with a new, higher building with additional facilities such as restaurants with sea views which would add value in terms of additional facilities and possible income and could generate a much better feature building in that location.

 

The Regeneration Consultant outlined to Members that they were being asked to note the content of the feasibility study first before asking officers to prepare a report on the cost of preparing a draft full business case (including sources of funding) for a multi-use facility; how it would operate; what the earnings would be; what the management would look like, including consideration of additional income opportunities related to Option 3a. Officers would then prepare a report on the costs of producing a business case which would be submitted to the Committee’s meeting to be held in July 2024. The final recommendation sought the Committee’s approval to the Brewer’s Fayre being used as site offices  ...  view the full minutes text for item 770.

771.

Additional Beach Huts pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Director of Growth and Interim Joint Chief Executive which was presented by the Property, Estates and Facilities Manager. This report followed previous reports that had been presented to Members about beach huts and it set out the results of work undertaken by Officers identifying potentially viable sites for new beach hut installations. A summary of the study undertaken had been attached to the report as an appendix and this shortlisted viable sites.

 

            The Property, Estates and Facilities Manager advised that the Committee was being requested to provide approval to officers to undertake a focussed market research exercise by surveying the Council’s beach hut waiting list to establish market interest at the six sites listed in the recommendations; carry out legal due diligence and undertake a public consultation exercise regarding the sites shortlisted so that a report could be brought back to the Committee with the findings of these exercises as well as exploring potential for introducing beach huts on the putting green at Marine Park Gardens. 

 

Councillor Stanley then proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Walsh.

 

            The Chair then invited questions from Members. A range of questions were then asked by the Committee. Firstly, regarding the proposal to explore potential for adding beach huts on the putting green at Marine Park Gardens, one Councillor was interested to know if this could jeopardise the council’s chances of continuing to receive Green Flag Awards in the future. A concern raised by several Members was the lack of consultation with Town/Parish Councils and Ward Members at an early stage of this work. Members were also keen to be informed as to how the selection of locations had been decided.

 

            On the issue of consultation, other Councillors expressed their disappointment that Town/Parish Councils and Ward Members had not been approached to seek their opinions before any shortlisting of viable sites had progressed. Another concern expressed was that of beach hut income as it was recognised that additional beach huts could provide a solid income stream for the Council in future years. However, it was felt that the proposals did not show the council’s ability to generate revenue well. Questions were asked as to why the additional huts could not be rented out in the short term on a daily or weekly basis. The proposal to offer these to customers on the current waiting list at the current market rent was not seen as an ambitious way of generating much needed income. It was felt that there was a great opportunity to offer beach huts to rent to the many day visitors; holiday makers and residents and that beach huts should be made accessible to all.

 

Continuing with the discussion on the involvement of Town/Parish Councils as part of the consultation process, Councillor Walsh confirmed that he wished to make an amendment to Recommendation 2.4 – to read as set out below [deletions have been shown using strikethrough with additions shown in bold:

 

“Undertake initial  ...  view the full minutes text for item 771.

772.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 79 KB

The Committee are required to note the work programme.

Minutes:

The Committee received and noted the work programme of the Committee covering the past Municipal Year. The Group Head of Technical Services confirmed that a work programme covering 2024/25 would be presented to the first meeting of the Committee in July 2024.

 

773.

Exempt Information

The Committee is asked to consider passing the following resolution: -

 

          That under Section 100a (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and accredited representatives of newspapers be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 3 of Schedule 12A of the Act by virtue of the paragraph specified against the item.

 

Minutes:

Having been proposed by Councillor Tandy and seconded by Councillor Gunner, 

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

That under Section 100a (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and accredited representatives of newspapers be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they may involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 3 of Schedule 12A of the Act by virtue of the paragraph specified against the items.

 

774.

Harbour Park Lease Negotiations

This report provides information regarding the terms of a lease and seeks approval for proposed negotiation parameters.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from The Director of Growth and Interim Joint Chief Executive which was presented by the Group Head of Technical Services providing information regarding the terms of a lease in respect of Harbour Park, Littlehampton. The report sought Committee approval for proposed negotiation parameters.

 

The Committee received a detailed overview in terms of the background to the lease, discussions that had taken place with the tenants and what options were available. 

 

The recommendations in the report were then proposed by Councillor Stanley and seconded by Councillor Walsh.

 

The Chair invited debate which saw many questions and concerns being raised and so a lengthy discussion took place.

 

            Having listened to the many points raised, the Chair confirmed that the recommendations required amending to accommodate the views of the Committee in terms of a way forward.

 

            The Committee discussed in length and worked collaboratively in confirming the changes that should be made which developed into substantial amendments.

 

These were then proposed by Councillor Tandy and were seconded by Councillor Stanley.

 

 

 

 

 

A point of Order was raised by Councillor Gunner in relation to Part 5 – Rules of Procedure (Meetings), Section 2 – Committee Procedure Rules in relation to Rule 8 [Duration of Meeting] where he proposed that the meeting be extended for a further 30 minutes to allow the remaining business on the agenda to be concluded.  This was seconded by Councillor Tandy.

 

Following further debate,

 

            The Committee

 

            RESOLVED – That

 

(1)  It be agreed that officers decline to dispose of the Council’s freehold, and continue to negotiate with the tenant;

 

(2)  The Committee endorses the general principle of negotiating a new lease of 25 years, market rent with rent reviews every 5 years, seeks to reduce the restrictive covenants on ADC land, that includes minimum opening hours and service provision between 1 October to end of March (in addition to high season) and that any covenants on the freehold title WSX290575 restricting ADC land also be expunged;

 

(3)  The outcome of the negotiations be reported back to the Economy Committee;

 

(4)  That the Council commissions a master plan for the seafront/river area including Members’ suggestions and involvement.

 

775.

Fitzleet Multi-storey Car Park Option Update report

This report gives explanation of the factors affecting the ongoing operation and maintenance of Fitzleet Car Park, and the options available for its future use. It seeks approval for taking forward a 10 year maintenance plan, closing levels 7 and 8, for continuing investigations into the installation of solar PV equipment on those levels, and for offering the space at levels 7 and 8 to the BID for suitable ‘meanwhile’ uses in the interim.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Director of Growth and Interim Joint Chief Executive which was presented to the Committee by the Property, Estates and Facilities Manager.  The report provided an explanation of the factors affecting the ongoing operation and maintenance of the Fitzleet Car Park, and the options that were available for its future use. The report sought Member approval to take forward a 10 year maintenance plan, closing levels 7 and 8, for continuing investigations into the installation of solar PV equipment on those levels and for offering the space at levels 7 and 8 to the BID for suitable ‘meanwhile’ uses in the interim.

 

Having received clarification from the Property, Estates and Facilities Manager in relation to Recommendation 2.4 and the Bognor Regis BIDs intentions, the recommendations were then proposed by Councillor Stanley and seconded by Councillor Walsh.

 

            The Committee then discussed the proposals at length and varying views were expressed and debated.

 

 

The Committee

 

            RESOLVED – That

 

(1)  It approved the adoption and delivery of the ten year life care plan of Fitzleet Multi-Story Car Park;

 

(2)  Delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Technical Services, subject to headlessee consent, to close levels seven and eight of Fitzleet Multi-Story Car Park in accordance with the 10 year life care plan;

 

(3)  Subject to head-leaseholder consent, approve for officers to carry out a detailed feasibility study into the installation of solar photovoltaic panels across levels seven and eight of Fitzleet Multi-Story Car Park, reporting back to committee; and

 

(4)  Subject to head-leaseholder consent, approve for officers to develop opportunities for meanwhile uses of levels seven and eight of Fitzleet Multistorey Car Park, engaging with Bognor Regis BID and delivering solutions in accordance with the Councils adopted constitution