To consider the creation and provision of fit for purpose accommodation for Windermere and Bowness Town Council and the release of Langstone House, Broad Street, Windermere for affordable housing.
Note – In accordance with Section 100B(2) of the Local Government Act 1972, copies of Appendix 2 to the report are excluded from inspection by members of the public as it contains information as described in Schedule 12A of the Act, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, as follows:-
Paragraph 3 - Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).
Councillor Jarvis, Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder presented the report to Cabinet, outlining the intention to create and provide fit for purpose accommodation for Windermere and Bowness Town Council in exchange of the release of Langstone House, Broad Street, Windermere for affordable housing.
Descriptions of the building close to town were provided; the proposed structure and refurbishment explained; the extent of the investment and rental values detailed; and the wider benefits to the community were articulated to Members. Councillor Jarvis noted that this proposal immediately reduces the expenses for the Town Council and offsets rent outlay.
The District Council have been working alongside Windermere and Bowness Town Council with a view to finding an alternative location for the Town Council in order to realise the potential of Langstone House as affordable housing.
As part of the Asset review undertaken by the District Council, Ellerthwaite Depot located in Broad Street car park which is also surplus to requirement was put forward for development to create a new commercial unit close to the Town centre which could be leased by the authority for a commercial rent.
Councillor Jarvis provided detail around the feasibility study agreed by officers following discussion with the Town Council. The Council’s property services provider has developed designs to meet the needs and standards as requested by the Town Council and the Town Council have agreed in principle to relinquish their user rights in Langstone House in return for a refurbished and re-configured depot building.
As well as the asset transfer of Ellerthwaite Depot, Windermere and Bowness Town Council have requested 1 No. designated car parking space in Broad Street car park next to the depot and to be consulted and approve the end use of Langstone House to ensure that Langstone House is to be used for affordable housing in the future and not developed for other commercial uses. Whilst the overall outcome for the site is to be agreed with Windermere and Bowness Town Council, agreement over delivery model and any housing provider engagement will be limited to the District Council and new Authority to approve.
Cabinet considered whether the future development of affordable housing on the Langstone House site justified the less than best terms for the lease to the Town Council. They were informed that justification of a less than best consideration can only be confirmed once the results of the feasibility study are known and providing further that the results of the feasibility study confirm that an affordable housing scheme on the Langstone House site is viable (and subject to further report to Cabinet).
Members queried if there would be possibility that there might be a requirement for a start from scratch re-build. Thinking ahead, Members were preparing to answer any questions on the site developments that they may encounter. Councillor Jarvis responded that feasibility studies were underway to ascertain how best to develop this site.
Officers in answer to questions raised explained that they will ensure that an affordable housing scheme is viable on Langstone House site prior to entering into any building contracts for the Ellerthwaite Depot scheme to ensure that the Council can justify the less than best leasehold transaction with the Town Council and can satisfy itself that such a transaction is not in breach of the Local Government Act 1972, General Disposal Consent (England) 2003.
RESOLVED – That:-
(1) Authority is delegated to officers to undertake a feasibility study of Langstone House with a view to creating affordable housing on the site either through re- configuration of the existing premise or re-development of the site, with a further report to be brought back for Cabinet approval for the affordable housing scheme.
(2) in principle the disposal and development of Ellerthwaite Depot at less than best consideration and in accordance with the draft Heads of Terms in Appendix 2 to Windermere and Bowness Town Council be approved; and
(3) authority is delegated to agree the terms of the Disposal and to enter the Agreement to Lease and surrender of user rights and any existing occupational agreements of Langstone House to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services in conjunction with the Lead Specialist for Legal, Governance and Democracy, Operational Lead for Delivery and Commercial Service and Lead Specialist for Finance.
Reasons for Decision
The Council intends to adhere to its asset management strategy, to make the best use of its assets and to bring forward affordable housing to the Town.
This will create and provide fit for purpose accommodation for the Windermere and Bowness Town Council and the release of Langstone House, Broad Street, Windermere for affordable housing.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Do nothing – this is not a favoured option as the Council fails to adhere to its asset management strategy to make the best use of its assets and fails to bring forward affordable housing for the Town.
To proceed with development of Ellerthwaite Depot for commercial rent only and continue with Windermere and Bowness Town Council using Langstone House. This is not a favoured option as whilst development of the depot would be in line with the Council Asset Management Strategy, it would fail to realise affordable housing units within the centre of Windermere.