To consider options for the Ulverston Leisure site and a way forward for the scheme.
The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder presented a detailed report on the Ulverston Leisure Site. He informed the meeting that Members had been looking at an opportunity which had been presented by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to co-locate facilities currently provided by GSK together with reinvestment in the Council’s facilities.
The report set out proposals for a new leisure facility at the Council’s Priory Road site in Ulverston and the rationale behind the scheme which was summarised as:-
· Investment in Place – providing a good leisure and sports offering, promoting the benefits of Ulverston as a place to live, work and invest;
· Improving health – providing facilities and programming which promote active lifestyles;
· Employment Land use – opportunity for the re purposing of land at the GSK site to support future employment use, enabled by the relocation of facilities at Priory Road;
· Sustainable facilities – addressing reinvestment in aging facilities, reducing cost and environmental impact, extending community participation in the provision and operation of facilities; and
· Responding to current circumstances – As part of proposals which mitigate the impacts of change at the GSK site.
The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder referred to challenges faced with regard to the estimated costs being in excess of the funding available and the impact of the pandemic on leisure use and operational business plans. However, as the impact of the pandemic had eased and there had been progress on the interrelated developments at the GSK site, further work had been undertaken to consider progressing the proposals.
The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder set out the recommended phased approach which comprise three proposed phases. Phase 1 included the provision of three football pitches along with changing facilities, the remodelling of the indoor tennis centre, a crown green bowling green and an informal running route. The estimated cost was £1.8 million with a delivery period of twelve to fifteen months and had been enabled by the GSK financial contribution.
Phases two and three were set out in the report and required more significant project development work to achieve a similar degree of confidence on costs. This would likely be a matter for the new Westmorland and Furness Council to consider as the completion of phase one, would likely run up to the end of South Lakeland District Council.
Members raised a concern that the Council had not committed to the implementation of the whole scheme. The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder alongside the Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder commented that the further project development work was required to establish the detail of costs and funding and that it would be necessary for the new Westmorland and Furness authority to consider such a decision.
Members expressed their appreciation for progress on this important project and felt that it was crucial to move forwards on phase one of the proposals to allow the new Westmorland and Furness Council to move on with phases two and three in the future.
RESOLVED – That
(1) Council be recommended to receive the £2 million from GSK for replacement Leisure provision (subject to 2.1.3 and 2.1.4);
(2) the progression of Phase 1 of the Ulverston Leisure Site with the proceeds of the £2 million from GSK be approved ( subject to 2.1.3 and 2.1.4);
(3) the entering into of an agreement to receive the £2 million be approved and for this to be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services in consultation with the Monitoring Officer and the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Assets;
(4) the amendment of the existing contract with GLL to facilitate the delivery of Phase 1 be approved and this to be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services in consultation with the Monitoring Officer and Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure;
(5) further project development be approved to take place on Phases 2 and 3, for the purpose of providing detailed proposals for consideration by the new Westmorland and Furness Council with regard to future implementation; and
(6) the amendments to the Capital Programme be recommended to Council in light of the revised estimated costs of the scheme and a phased approach to delivery.
Reasons for Decision
The proposals link to the following Council Plan priorities:-
· Working across boundaries – The proposals will improve prospects for employment growth by releasing land to repurpose as employment land.
· Delivering a balanced community – The proposals will help secure the provision of facilities which promote participation in active lifestyles, promote club and volunteer activity.
· A fairer South Lakeland – The proposals will help secure provision of facilities which can help work in partnership to reduce health inequalities
· Addressing the climate emergency – Planning for future built facilities provides opportunity to improve and sustainability of buildings and services.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
The project is at a pivotal point. It is intrinsically linked to the future use of the land at GSK which enables future employment use and as part of mitigation of the change at the GSK site. It has made progress in narrowing the funding gap of the previous proposals and has broad support from stakeholders to progress. Local Government Reorganisation is imminent which will bring the considerations of a new Council to future strategy and provision of services. The following options are considerd:
Do nothing. The Cabinet could decide not to undertake further work on the scheme. This would mean that the opportunity to reinvest in leisure facilities and to repurpose land at GSK for employment use would be lost. The rationale for the scheme would be lost. It would increase the risk of sports facilities being closed at GSK without replacement or the economic benefit of future employment land. The financial contribution from GSK would not be realised. Whilst the Council’s current facilities would continue, opportunities to investigate how they can be re provided and funded, addressing risk from the increased aging of the current facilities would be lost. The development of informed options for consideration by the new Westmorland and Furness Council would be foregone. This option is not recommended.
Progress all Phases as a single scheme. Further stages of design, funding and leisure contract renegotiation would be required in order to inform the Cabinet of all relevant considerations prior to a decision to progress all phases as a single scheme. Understanding the implications and requirements of the Leisure Contract post Covid will take some time. Progressing as a whole risks pushing the project back a number of years and doesn’t allow earlier delivery of benefits which are possible through a phased approach and better meet the timetable of change occurring at the GSK site. This option is not recommended.
Progress Phase 1 to implementation. This option enables earlier delivery of benefits, including the future repurposing of the GSK land for employment use. It enables and secures the application of financial contribution from GSK and reduces risk of the potential for closure of sporting facilities. This is the recommended option.
Continue project development work on Phases 2 and 3. This option enables further development work to ascertain greater cost certainty, funding and associated contractual change. This work would be required to fully inform future options for the Council’s facilities and leisure provision in Ulverston and helps mitigate the risks from the increased aging of facilities. It will enable options to be considered by the new Westmorland and Furness Council. This is a recommended option.