This report seeks to gain authority to proceed with the procurement of essential flat roof replacement and associated works to the Bognor Regis Arcade building. Authority is further sought for placement of contract and works order for the project with the most economically advantageous contractor on completion of procurement to permit project delivery.
Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Property, Estates & Facilities Manager introduced the report to the Committee. He explained that the Council had been aware of the poor condition of the large section of flat roof to the east side of the Arcade, which had been patched many times both during and before Council ownership of the building. The condition had deteriorated more rapidly than expected and had now come to the end of it’s life. During heavy rainfall the water effected some ground floor commercial premises and damaged surfaces. Action was needed now, to prevent more serious failure or compensation events. In January last year Members had been provided with a seminar in which several viability options for the upper floors were presented, including an option for the creation of an additional storey above the defective flat roof area, however it was not deemed to enhance the financial viability of the scheme. Given the viability conclusion, it was in the best interests of the Council to proceed with the replacement of the defective flat roof, which would be of benefit to future use of the upper floors and would protect viability of ground floor units. The flat roof had been surveyed by a contractor and this indicated that potential structural defects were likely to exist within the fabric of the roof as a result of ongoing water penetration. The cost was estimated to be around £210, 000. It was acknowledged that retail remained in a delicate state, and any charges levied would be in consultation with leaseholders. The Ward Members had been consulted and no negative comments had been received.
Members (and non-Committee Members given permission to speak) then took part in a question and answer session as summarised below:
· There was concern about the recommendations, as it was felt this could restrict future options. It was suggested that a temporary roof be erected in the short term, while a future plan for the building was drawn up. The Property, Estates & Facilities Manager explained that access on the roof would still be required, and the site was very exposed, so a temporary roof may not last long, and also would not look attractive.
· The building was in a poor state when it was bought, and was likely to deteriorate further, the purchase of the building was a failed investment that the Council should get out of as quickly as possible. It was an important heritage site, and the features should be preserved, particularly the Northern façade, but there was concern about spending the sum of money on a solution that may have to be removed to allow further development.
· It was too early to fully explore expanding the top floor of the arcade, and there was concern that erecting the new roof would take that option away.
· The ground floor was hosting some wonderful businesses and concern was expressed about passing the costs onto those businesses. The Property, Estates & Facilities Manager explained that businesses would be worked with to explore whether or not costs could be recovered over time. He explained that the rent assistance scheme had been introduced to help the businesses.
· All areas of the building should be opened up, so the building was fully available to use and rent out.
· It was acknowledged that there was a health and safety aspect issue with the current roof. It was suggested that there should be a condition the cost was not recovered from tenants.
· Clarification was sought on the Managing Agent of the premises.
· Clarification was sought on the state of the roof, and the type of rot that it had.
· It was suggested the titles could be divided so the listed façade be on a separate title, then the remainder of the building could be developed separately. It was explained that this would result in the loss of the businesses that were current leaseholders.
· Further support was offered for the idea of a temporary roof.
· The building needed to be protected and the roof should be replaced. To delay the works would be going against the recommendations of the Officers. The business tenants wanted this work to be done.
· The Council had a duty of care to the business tenants.
The recommendations were Proposed by Councillor Andy Cooper and Seconded by Councillor Gunner.
It was requested that each recommendation be voted upon separately, which then took place.
1) The Council proceed with the procurement of essential urgent flat roof replacement and associated works to the Bognor Regis Arcade building.
2) Authority be delegated to the Group Head of Technical Services, to authorise and enter into contract with, and place order for, the tendered roofing works with the economically most advantageous contractor following the procurement exercise, subject to approval of 2022/23 budget at Full Council in February 2022.
3) A report be brought back to Committee as soon as possible with a recommendation on future use of the upper floors of the Arcade