Members are reminded of the need to consider whether they have a personal
or prejudicial interest to declare in any of the items on this agenda. If so, the
nature of the interest must be declared at the start of the meeting. In
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Administrator. The Officers will be pleased to advise, if necessary, and any
request for assistance should be made, in the first instance, to the
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time is available to consider any uncertainty that might arise.
There were no declarations of interest made.
To consider any public questions submitted, of which due notice has been given, and which are relevant to the business of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
The Chairman reported the receipt of several public questions by Mr James Corrigan which were read out on his behalf. Before the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Colling answered the questions, she made a statement. As a former Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board, she welcomed this opportunity for cross-party scrutiny of these two related regeneration schemes. Councillor Colling commented that since the Council decision in July 2019 to support the redevelopment of the former Argos building and the wider regeneration of this area, she and other Cabinet members had worked very closely with officers to develop these proposals with full rigour. Councillor Colling recalled the debate at that Council meeting: the cross-party consensus to rid the town of one of its least attractive buildings and kick start the regeneration of a deprived ward, that market failure should not be allowed to continue, to support the new, growing and ambitious Coventry University, to address the exodus of young people from the Borough, to help the NHS in its struggle to recruit key posts by providing much needed accommodation, and to rise imaginatively to the challenges and demands facing the Borough. She reminded the meeting that there were conditions attached to the development of the former Argos building as discussed at full Council in July 2019, and these conditions must be met before the development could proceed. Councillor Colling acknowledged that the COVID pandemic presented its challenges (the reason why the KPMG report had been commissioned), but that the Council’s strategic post COVID-19 Recovery Plan was an opportunity to undertake strategic investments to kick start the economy, to support private, third sector services and foundation businesses and industries, to improve the Council’s offer for young people, to attract those skilled professionals the NHS needed, to increase resilience in the local economy and end inequalities, and to be innovative in supporting the Borough’s places and communities. In short, an opportunity to build back better. The questions and answers given at the meeting by Portfolio Holder, Councillor Colling are set out below. Mr Corrigan asked that it be noted that he had no commercial interest in the proposed development of Argos or the Market Square.
1. I note that KPMG have been engaged to give a “commercial review of the transaction, covering the higher education sector as a whole as well as the more specific potential impact on Coventry University as an organisation” (para 4.4 of the report). It is clear to all that the whole economy is extremely uncertain at the present time and is likely to be so for many months or years. With all due respect to KPMG, they were the auditor to Carillion that collapsed only a few months after they had completed their audit which made no reference to any going concern issues. The returns from the proposed development are much more uncertain in the current economic climate, with particular concern regarding the rent that may be achieved from the commercial units in the development. There is inherent uncertainty ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
To consider the report of the Director (RB) (Reference 20/106) attached
The O&S Board considered the report of the Director (RB) (reference 20/106) in respect of the student accommodation and market square regeneration schemes in Scarborough town centre. The Director, Richard Bradley and Regeneration Manager, Alex Richards then delivered a presentation to the Board in respect of both schemes. Members were reminded that the reasons for the Council decision to support both schemes in July 2019 were the recently approved Scarborough Town Centre Strategy and the clear opportunity to undertake a significant, commercially viable regeneration project which would address a town centre eyesore failed by the market, would reverse years of decline, whilst supporting key anchor institutions in the Borough. The related market square scheme would provide a much needed focus and safe public space to this important area of the town centre, ideal for outdoor events, which would also benefit the Market Hall. In tandem both schemes could unlock some £37m in external funding from the Towns Fund, Future High Streets Fund and other sources. Members were reminded of the seven key strategic themes within the Scarborough Town Centre Strategy and the importance of establishing Scarborough’s position as a university town, and how these two schemes would help deliver these themes. Members’ attention was also drawn to the detail of full Council’s decision in July 2019, in particular that the capital sums for the student accommodation scheme be funded from borrowing; and that the Council would not be obligated to proceed with the building acquisition if the completed development would not achieve rental income that delivered a minimum net return on investment of 0.5%, after allowing for the financing costs and repayments of the associated borrowing; thus making the scheme cash flow positive for the Council. Since that decision which had set the budget and policy context for the student accommodation scheme, much work had been undertaken with partner organisations (Coventry University, Future Lets, NHS and the Council’s development partner, Wrenbridge) on the technical aspects to bring the scheme to realisation. These included finalising the lease, funding and development agreements whilst ensuring that the scheme remained financially viable. Despite the scheme’s delay, Coventry University had signalled its continuing commitment to the student accommodation scheme and to the town. Officers had also been engaging with consultants AECOM who were supporting the Council’s TF, FHSF and Heritage Action Zone applications and with government to ensure both schemes met funding criteria. These funding applications would be submitted shortly. The development agreement with Wrenbridge was conditional in order to protect the Council’s interests with four conditions: planning, vacant possession, building compliance and agreement for lease. The funding agreement to facilitate the construction was then subject to a further five conditions: development, right of light, procurement, vacant possession, and financial viability. In respect of the COVID-19 pandemic, this had impacted on the Council’s budgets, however the proposed executive decision did not affect the budget and policy context agreed by full Council in July 2019, and there were conditions in place to protect the ... view the full minutes text for item 3.