Agenda item

Redditch TIP Library Development - Business Case

This report will follow in an Additional Papers pack, once the report has been published for consideration of the Executive Committee.


The Programme Delivery Manager from North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration and the Head of Planning, Regeneration and Leisure Services presented the report regarding the Redditch TIP Library Development.


In doing so the following was highlighted for Members’ attention:


·       The business case had been prepared by Mott McDonald and the summary documents were due to be submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 15th October 2022.

·       The high level objectives of the Redditch Library Redevelopment were to improve connectivity between the Kingfisher Centre and the Conservation Area. The plans included the demolition of the current library building.  However, it was clarified by Officers that the plan was to relocate the library to the Town Hall Hub therefore ensuring future library provision within the Town Centre. The plans also included a commercial mixed use building including Food and Beverage (F&B) unit and co-working space.


Members requested further clarification regarding the arrangements with Worcestershire County Council (WCC) and the Letter of Understanding (LoU) provided by WCC. The Interim Director of Finance explained that this letter had been received by the Authority and that provided the requirements contained within the letter were met, that WCC would be supportive of the Town’s Bid to demolish the library. This was of considerable concern to some Members who felt that it was premature to agree to endorse a project without the agreement of WCC. However, it was reported that the Council had been working with WCC officers for some time and that this project had been taken very seriously at all points of the process. In addition to this, it was noted that if WCC did approve the relocation of the library as outlined in the business case a public consultation would still have to be undertaken as part of the statutory process. Members requested whether it would be possible to view a copy of the LoU with WCC and it was agreed that this LoU would be circulated to Members of the Committee following the meeting.


During a robust debate, Members also discussed the following:


·       That library provision was a key criterion within the Towns Bid Funding and the Towns Board made the decisions and all minutes of their meetings were a matter of public record. In respect of consultation, Officers explained that before the original TIP was supported there was consultation in 2019.

·       Risk – The Interim Director of Finance explained that risks involved within the projects were being mitigated and that redesigning and reengineering had been undertaken in order to meet the new proposed budget. In addition to this, it was imperative the project be managed effectively and was key to the delivery of the project. Members suggested that the projects can sometimes go over budget and with the Council’s current financial situation this was a cause for concern. In addition to this, Members highlighted that it would take some time to see a return on investment of the £4.2m required to demolish the library if the rent from F&B area, was only £29,070. It was queried whether this was good value for money. Officers explained that the hope was that these new F&B units and co-working spaces would encourage footfall within this area of the Town Centre.

·       Archives of the current library – Officers explained that this was a matter for WCC and would be included in the consultation. However, it was confirmed by a Member that there were archive facilities in the Town Hall if necessary.

·       Timeline of projects – It was reported that, depending on the timing of the consultation, the deadline for completion of construction was 31st March 2026.

·       Lease – There was a query regarding who owned the lease to the library building and it was confirmed that it was a 125 year lease owned by the County Council.

·       Procurement of contractors – Members queried what process would be undertaken in terms of procurement for this project and whether local contractors would be used and if contractors who were procured would have contracts with conditions that trade unions would find acceptable. The Head of Legal, Democratic and Property Services confirmed that procurement would be undertaken through a framework and that in respect of trade union conditions the Council would not make those stipulations as it would be up to the companies to follow the guidelines. It was highlighted that Local Authorities already met basic criteria of procurement as part of the Government framework used.


The detailed debate continued, where the green agenda was raised and highlighted that it was important to look at the long term view. In addition to this, some Members commented that having other services, including the library, within a Town Hall Hub would generate income for the Council.


Current footfall of the library was discussed, and it was reported that currently there were 400 visitors per day to the library and it was queried whether this would be reciprocated in a F&B area. Officers explained that the early evening economy would be the main focus of the F&B area.


Some Members felt that public response to the proposals must be taken into account when considering this report, particularly in light of the petition that had been initiated by residents who were not in support of the project. It was also highlighted that it was important for residents to have the full facts and information available in the public domain.


Some Committee Members felt that this was a visionary project for Redditch and that the economic returns were good.  However, in order to be able to move the project forward the submission of the business case must be made, which was the decision that the Executive Committee had to make at its next meeting due to be held on 11th October 2022.


Following conclusion of the debate, it was agreed by some Members that the Town Hall was currently not being used to is full capacity however the following amendment was proposed:




Overview and Scrutiny Committee, having considered the report advises the Executive Committee NOT to endorse the business case and not to proceed with this project for the following reasons:


1.     The risks are too high, and the financial returns are too low and;


2.     The Council does not have the Authority from Worcestershire County Council to proceed to demolish the library in the Town Centre.


A named vote was requested and recorded as follows:


Members voting FOR the recommendation:


Councillors Baker, Harvey and Hartnett (3)


Members voting AGAINST the recommendation:


Councillors Altaf, Chalk, Clayton, Court and Pearman (5)


Members voting to ABSTAIN on the recommendation:


No Councillors (0)


The recommendation was therefore lost.

Following consideration of this item a brief adjournment was taken from 20:06 to 20:11.



Supporting documents: