Agenda item

Matchborough and Winyates District Centres - Update

This item will be pre-scrutinised by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at a meeting on 21st March 2019.  Any recommendations arising from the meeting will be reported to the Executive Committee for consideration alongside the report for this item.


The Town Centre Advisor explained that the report followed a previous decision made by Members in January 2019 to permit officers to undertake soft market testing in respect of the redevelopment of Matchborough and Winyates district centres.  The Council had approach five organisations from a range of backgrounds about the potential to redevelop the district centres.  Four organisations had responded and had indicated that they would be interested in working with the Council in the future in respect of this matter.


In their feedback the four organisations had commented on the potential for housing and commercial units to be provided in the redevelopment.  The majority had suggested that between 250 and 300 houses could be built, subject to planning permission.  A range of ideas about the centres had been suggested in the feedback, including retention of two district centres, having one smaller district centre and one larger centre and retaining just one district centre. The organisations had all wanted to work not just with the Council but also with the public in respect of the redevelopment.  Members were asked, however, to note that no decisions had yet been taken by the Council about the redevelopment of the district centres.  A further report would be presented for the consideration of the Executive Committee in June 2019 which would provide more information that would enable Members to make decisions that would lead to the Council going out to tender in July 2019.


Following the presentation of the report Members discussed the matter in detail and in so doing noted that there was a need to engage with the community in respect of the redevelopment of the district centres. The Council needed to ensure that an effective communications plan was in place as residents and local businesses would be keen to learn about the project as it progressed.


During consideration of this item Members noted that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had pre-scrutinised the report at a meeting on 21st March.  At the end of their discussions the Committee had endorsed the recommendations detailed in the report.  However, a number of questions had been raised by Members about the informal groups that had been established to discuss the redevelopment of the district centres and concerns had been raised that some ward Councillors had not been involved.  A briefing note had subsequently been circulated amongst Members of the Overview and Scrutiny and Executive Committees which provided clarification about the various groups. Members noted from this briefing note that:


·                There had been an informal meeting at Christ Church, Matchborough, where Officers had met with business tenants to discuss the redevelopment.  All ward Members had been invited to attend.

·                There was an officer working group that was reviewing areas such as communications arrangements and legal requirements.

·                There was a stakeholder group involving a range of stakeholders including the Leader of the Council in his capacity as the relevant Portfolio Holder.

·                No minutes were taken at any of these meetings as they were only informal, and for information gathering.

·                Ward Members would be welcome to attend future informal meetings and stakeholder meetings.

·                The purpose of all of these meetings was to provide an opportunity for attendees to share information.  Decisions would need to be taken by the Executive Committee and full Council.


During consideration of this item Councillor Bill Hartnett proposed an amendment to the recommendations.  This was seconded by Councillor Greg Chance.


The amendment called for the following two additional recommendations to be added to the three recommendations proposed in the report:


“(d) All Winyates and Matchborough ward Councillors will be fully and meaningfully consulted throughout the process from this point forward including preparing the Council tender documents and the options.


(e) Consistent consultation with affected residents, Tenants and stakeholders will be undertaken from this point forward in the process.”


In proposing the amendment Councillor Hartnett explained that he was of the opinion that the Borough should continue to have two district centres in Matchborough and Winyates respectively, rather than one.  This would ensure that income for the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and from business rates would remain the same.  Councillor Hartnett expressed concerns that not every ward Member had been involved in the project to date and that rumours were circulating within the community which ward Councillors did not feel in a position to address.  Information about the redevelopment of the centres had been publicised in the local press and it was suggested that the time was therefore right to start engaging with the public, to provide reassurance and information rather than to wait until 2020.  Lessons needed to be learned from the redevelopment of Church Hill district centre and the proposals were designed to address this. 


In seconding the amendment Councillor Chance commented that the amendment called for the Council to undertake consistent consultation with the public and other relevant stakeholders, including ward Councillors.  This would provide them with an opportunity to shape the proposals.  Information about the redevelopment had already been shared with the local press so it seemed appropriate to share details with the public too at this stage.


Members discussed the amendment and in so doing noted that the Council was at the start of the redevelopment process.  No decisions had been made and it was considered too early to provide any information for public consultation.  However, at the appropriate time consultation would form a key part of the process.  There was still a lot of work to be undertaken in respect of the financial and legal implications of the redevelopment and this information would be built into a future business case which would form the basis for terms of reference and a specification.  Concerns were also raised that it would be inappropriate for Members to become involved in preparing Council tender documents and considering the outcomes of the procurement process as this was an operational matter managed by Officers.


On being put to the vote the amendment was lost.


Members proceeded to consider the recommendations detailed in the report and it was noted that the desire to enable ward Councillors to shape the project was implicit within the third recommendation.  To clarify this Members agreed that the wording of the third recommendation should be amended to acknowledge the role of ward Councillors and that all stakeholders referred to in the recommendation would be involved in both developing and shaping the redevelopment of the district centres.




a)        the positive outcome of the soft market testing is noted and officers are instructed to continue to analyse the results;

b)        as a preparatory to procuring a preferred developer, to instruct officers to continue to work to develop the Council’s parameters for a potential scheme (economic, social and environmental) and the frame of reference for joint working with a developer and delivery of a scheme; and

c)        Officers report back with specific proposals for the formal procurement of a suitable development partner to work with the Council, stakeholders, the local community and ward Councillors to develop, shape and agree a comprehensive regeneration scheme for Matchborough and Winyates.

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