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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 19th October, 2011

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Tourism and Leisure

 

Alexandra Gardens Community Centre

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             The purpose of this report is to seek permission to demolish the existing Alexandra Gardens Community Centre and to detail plans to replace it with a new building.

Recommendations

1.             That the existing Alexandra Gardens Community Centre be demolished as soon as possible.

2.             That Cabinet include the £50k demolition budget in the current Capital Programme, funded from the Miscellaneous Buildings Fund.

3.             That the Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration works in partnership to secure funding for a potential rebuild of Alexandra Gardens Community Centre.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             Due to potential health and safety issues arising from leaving a dangerous structure empty.

2.             To provide funding for the demolition.

3.             To replace the former community centre with a building fit for purpose.

Background

2.             Alexandra Gardens Community Centre is located in the Buttrills Ward, Barry.  The Centre is believed to have been constructed from a World War II hut circa 1947.  The centre was well used by a Welsh language play group, a dance school, a pensioner's group, martial arts group, play schemes, polling use and a variety of other casual bookings up until its closure in September 2011. 

3.             The building had a number of improvements made to it in recent years via a mixture of Council funding and various grants including a new store, disabled toilet, refurbished kitchen, new boiler, new windows and a new interior ceiling.  All of these improvements were made to secure the medium term future of the building.  However, a recent problem with a gap caused by movement, appearing on the northern side of the building between the wall and the floor warranted further investigation. 

4.             Unfortunately, an independent structural survey confirmed that the building needed to be closed as it was structurally unsound with a high risk of collapse, especially during harsher winter weather with potential high winds and snowfalls.

5.             A further study to potentially save the building was commissioned and plans were established which would allow the Centre to remain open at a cost of £25,000.  However, there is no guarantee on how long these works would extend the life of the existing building.  There would also be considerable alterations to the existing hall which would make a number of the existing uses of the hall difficult.  The Community Centre Committee have considered these plans but feel that as there is no time scale available to how long such repairs would enable the centre to remain open and the fact that the proposed repairs would intrude into the hall, they are not in the best interest of the community.

6.             Temporary accommodation for all of the existing users of the hall has been found either directly by the Council or by the groups themselves.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.             The existing Community Centre building is now vacated and presents a significant health and safety risk as it has the potential to collapse; it also contains significant amounts of asbestos and is difficult to secure.  Therefore urgent action needs to be taken to demolish the building which has the support of the Community Centre Association.

8.             A quote to demolish the building has been obtained of £50,000.  This would include some of the recent improvements, notably the boiler and windows being put into storage for future use.  The kitchen provided recently at the facility has already been utilised at the Colcot Sports Centre where some Alexandra groups can still enjoy the use of the improved facility (kitchen).

9.             The Alexandra Gardens Community Association has not been dissolved and is committed to providing a new Hall on the existing site.  Officers from the Directorate of Environmental and Economic Regeneration have been working with the Association to draw up suitable plans.

10.        Contact has also been made with the Barry Regeneration Area scheme as well as other potential funding opportunities.  The Committee have also viewed the Welsh Seed School at Ysgol Bro Morganwg located in Barry and feel a module building is a suitable model for a replacement building.  The estimated cost of a replacement building is approximately £500,000

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

11.        The £50k demolition costs be funded from the Miscellaneous Buildings Fund and the Capital Programme updated accordingly.

12.        A Capital Bid has been submitted for £300k for 2012/13 to assist in the cost of building a new Community Centre.  The remaining £200k will be requested from the Welsh Government Barry Regeneration Area grant.  The outcome of both of these bids will be known later in the year.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.        The existing Community Centre is subject to a registered lease under which the Council has responsibilities to maintain and repair the premises.  The Council would also need to meet demolition costs.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.        Community Centres can play a role in reducing Crime and disorder.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.        There are no Equal Opportunity Implications resulting from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.        The Council is committed to providing quality community facilities wherever possible.

Policy Framework and Budget

17.        This is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.        Ward Members have been consulted on this report.

19.        Comments received from Councillor Alexander and Cllr Egan:

" The enforced removal of Alexandra Gardens Community Hall due to the  dangerous state of the building will be a tremendous loss to the people of Buttrills. Since its erection in 1947 it has been used by every section of the community.  The board of trustees over the years has served it well and worked  hard to maintain the building along with help from the Council.  but unfortunately the years and the weather have caught up with it.

If the building is not replaced  Buttrills  will be one of the few wards that has no community hall  and many groups of all ages will be deprived of a meeting place. .Although in Buttrills ward,  it is used  also  by people in Illtyd ward  and for many years has been the site of two polling boxes for both Illtyd and Buttrills ward's .  Many elderly people vote there and though we have postal votes those of a certain generation   like to vote in  person.

We both strongly urge the committee to find a way of re-establishing a community hall on the site. as soon as is feasible."

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.        Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

Structural Report June 2011.

 

Contact Officer

Dave Knevett, Operational Manager Leisure and Tourism, Tel 01446 704817.

 

Officers Consulted

Legal Services - Committee Reports

Operational Manager Property

Finance, ICT and Property

Community Centre Development Officer

Health and Safety Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Quick - Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration