This report sets out the proposed scope for the Palmer Road project and seeks approval to enter a framework agreement with the Football Foundation to progress the project and for the budget virement of section 106 allocations.
The Principal Landscape and Project Officer presented her report setting out the case for the provision of new sports facilities at Palmer Road in Angmering. It was highlighted that there was a lot of background information provided within the report to assist Members with their understanding of this project and that the basis for a sports hub on this site had stemmed from The Playing Pitch Strategy and Action Plan which had formed part of the evidence for the Local Plan. The hub would help to meet an identified shortfall in sporting facilities within the district. The Local Football Facilities Plan had identified Palmer Road as a high priority and was therefore likely to attract external funding. Whilst a great deal of work had already been undertaken to produce a feasibility study, it was confirmed that the project was still at an early stage.
The recommendations set out in the report would enable the Council to move to the next stage of the project establishing what could be included at the hub. This was a very exciting but complex project as the Section 106 funding had an expenditure deadline with the council being reliant upon external funding and it was not known if the Football Foundation application would cover everything specified whilst also fully delivering the project. The council was also reliant upon a planning application to the north of Palmer Road to release land for the football pitches. Moving forward, the steps were to engage with The Football Foundation and to appoint consultants to help develop designs.
The Chair then invited questions. The Committee welcomed this important recreational facility but also aired some concerns. One was the labelling of Palmer Road with one Member of the Committee suggesting that it made it sound like a facility for Angmering when it was intended to be a much wider facility for the eastern side of the district. A suggestion was made as to whether an alternative name should be given which would promote the site’s selling to the public and the suggestion of “the Angmering Sports Project” was made. Another concern was about public accessibility as there was no public transport within reasonable distance of the site along with concerns over access along that stretch of road near to the A27. As there were no proposals for any improvement in public transport, a request was made that this be written into any decisions being made as the project progressed and in terms of ongoing negotiations with the Parish Council and bus operators. It was suggested that such negotiations commence to ensure good public access which would only enhance what was a much needed facility and would then attract visitors from other areas of the district.
In response to these observations, Councillor Cooper provided reassurance that the Parish Council was working on a public bus service as it would remiss not to do that with the significant amount of housing that the Parish had had to absorb. That housing had resulted in this project coming to fruition. These discussions were being progressed though decisions had not yet been made. The proposals set out in the report were very much welcomed with the Committee being reminded that this scheme has been years in the asking with the Parish Council being delighted that this was now hopefully going to be progressed. Members were reminded that this project would be a huge asset, the pavilion there now which was not fit for purpose would be replaced with a new multi-purpose pavilion with enhanced pitch facilities.
Further discussion involved a request for the officer team to continue discussions with the contacts that they had in the industry to push for other similar projects in the district. The Group Head of Environment and Climate Change outlined that there were proposals through new development in Bersted for 3D pitch provision and a sports hub in the future. This was one initiative being discussed with the Football Foundation. The Football Facilities Plan, referred to in the presentation of the report, was looking at various other schemes in the district where there were possible funding proposals that could be followed up. With the expansion of women’s football, was there more funding available for the provision of women’s football and committing to facilities such as separate changing rooms and did this form part of this scheme? It was confirmed that the Football Foundation had several boxes that it needed to tick and women’s football was one of those along with many other initiatives and so this would form part of the proposals. Although there were not any layouts at this stage this would form part of the early design stages to be taken forward.
Another issue raised was the shortfall in funding which was around £3m and given that it was unlikely that there would be any further large scale planning applications in the Angmering parish. Where did Officers envisage this funding coming from, would this be through borrowing or other sources of funding? The Group Head of Environment and Climate Change confirmed that the Council would need to look at other potential sources of funding and that borrowing might have to be an outcome. The plan would be to phase the development of the project until funding became assured and as it was not clear at this stage as to what funding would be secured from the Football Foundation.
Two non-Committee Members were permitted to speak. One Member applauded the project stating that it was long overdue, and he thanked the Officer team for their work in progressing the scheme forward. He also commented upon the distance from the site to the train station at Angmering stating that he did not see this as an issue when comparing the accessibility of other leisure sites in the district. A further issue of concern raised was in relation to the fact that the Football Foundation would require that a legal first charge be taken over the freehold or leasehold to secure its grant funding. It was felt that this sounded more like a mortgage or loan rather than a grant and the Committee was asked if it felt this was advisable.
Following further debate and having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Chace, the Committee
RESOLVED – That
(1) The Project Proposal including the deliverables and the programme as set out in Appendix 1 be approved;
(2) Approval be given for the council to utilise the established Football Foundation AGP Framework, by signing a Joining Agreement, with the terms and conditions of the agreement to be agreed with Legal Services in consultation with the Monitoring Officer and to be executed in accordance with Contract Standing Orders;
(3) Approval be given to the procurement of professional services, to support the delivery of a new community sports hub at Palmer Road, within the professional fee allocation of £486,229 subject to the approval of Recommendation 4; and
(4) Approve the drawdown and expenditure of S106 developer funding contributions from the planning applications allocated to the Palmer Road project, and any CIL funding awarded.