REPORT OF THE DEPUTY CHIEF EXECUTIVE
To update Full Council on the proposed regeneration of Churchgate Shopping Centre and Hitchin Market.
Audio recording – Session 2 – 44 seconds
This Item was considered following consideration of the Part 2 Item.
Following consideration of the Part 2 Item (Minute 62 refers) the Executive Member for Finance and IT presented the report of the Deputy Chief Executive regarding the Regeneration of Churchgate Shopping Centre. The following appendices accompanied the report:
· Appendix A - Report due to be considered by Council on 22 November 2018 (Tabled)
· Indicative Site Plan - Ground Floor;
· Indicative Site Plan - First Floor.
He advised that, as a result of consideration of the Part 2 report, Cabinet had passed the following resolution:
“Full Council notes that in light of the risks associated with the proposals, including the reliance on funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership, officers will urgently consider in more detail the alternative options in the event that the current proposals are unable to proceed; such alternative options to be reported to Full Council early 2019 if required.”
The Executive Member for Finance and IT introduced Mr Rob Williams, Consultant from BNP Paribas, who was available to answer any queries from Members.
Councillor Cunningham proposed and Councillor Needham seconded the recommendations contained in the report.
The following Members asked questions and took part in the debate:
· Councillor Harry Spencer-Smith;
· Councillor Sam Collins.
Mr Williams, BNP Paribas and the Deputy Chief Executive responded to questions posed.
Councillor Martin Stears-Hanscomb proposed and Councillor Ian Albert seconded the following amendment to the recommendations:
That Full Council welcomes the proposals put forward by Churchgate Resurgence PB and notes that many of the ideas and arguments put forward are common aspirations shared by Hitchin residents and Councillors alike over many years. Recognising the Council’s responsibility to progress the proposals for Churchgate in conformance with Local Government rules, it will nevertheless, wherever possible engage with the Hitchin community groups represented by Churchgate Resurgence PB in future design and development.
The following Councillors took part in the debate regarding the proposed amendment
· Councillor Martin Stears-Handscomb;
· Councillor Ian Albert;
· Councillor David Levett;
· Councillor Julian Cunningham;
· Councillor Sam Collins.
Councillor Sam Collins proposed an amendment to the proposal that the words “represented by Churchgate Resurgence PB” be replaced with “Including Churchgate Resurgence PB”
Councillors Martin Stears-Handscomb and Ian Albert accepted this amendment to their proposal.
The following Councillors took part in the debate:
· Councillor Claire Strong;
· Councillor Steve Jarvis;
· Councillor Lynda Needham;
Upon the vote the amendment, with the agreed amendment was agreed.
A vote was undertaken regarding the recommendations in the report and the additional amendment and it was:
(1) That the principle of a regeneration of the Churchgate Centre and Hitchin Market with the Council as funder and owner of the regenerated scheme be supported, noting that the deliverability of the proposals is dependant upon securing funding from the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership:
(2) That the Deputy Chief Executive, in consultation with the Chief Finance Officer, the Leader of the Council and Executive Member for Finance and IT be authorised, to progress the negotiation of legal agreements with Shearer Property Group for the regeneration of the Churchgate Centre and to progress pre-purchase due diligence, subject to Full Council’s final approval of the terms of any proposal.
(3) That the transfer of up to £130k from the Special Reserve to progress the further work required prior to a final decision be approved;
(4) That the Consultation Strategy, which will form part of any development management agreement with a developer, clearly sets out how the community will continue to be engaged with and how they will have opportunities to see and influence the final proposals.
(5) That Full Council welcomes the proposals put forward by Churchgate Resurgence PB and notes that many of the ideas and arguments put forward are common aspirations shared by Hitchin residents and Councillors alike over many years. Recognising the Council’s responsibility to progress the proposals for Churchgate in conformance with Local Government rules, it will nevertheless, wherever possible engage with the Hitchin community groups including Churchgate Resurgence PB in future design and development.
REASON FOR DECISION: The Council has been seeking to regenerate the Churchgate Centre for a number of years and a number of different proposals have been considered during that time, with none of those proposals progressing to a successful conclusion. The proposal currently being considered finds a solution to a number of the problems faced by previous proposals and would appear to be achievable in the short term. The proposals would
also see significant investment in Hitchin Market and the public realm. The Council’s potential investment in this regeneration opportunity is also expected to provide a reasonable financial return. The initial proposals received significant public support when they were consulted on in March/April 2018.