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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 24 March, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

Former Tourist Information Centre, Barry Island and Former Lifeguard Building, the Promenade, Barry Island

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To consider the future use of the former Tourist Information Centre, Barry Island and to propose the premises be put to shared use in part, by the Council and in part by  another user.  The report also considers potential future use of the former lifeguard building located on the Promenade currently used by Cleansing staff as a base for their operations on Barry Island.

Recommendations

1.         That the former Tourist Information Centre (TIC), Barry Island be utilised in part for the purposes of Council office accommodation

2.         That the ground floor of the former TIC building and the former Lifeguard building on the promenade be declared surplus to the requirements of the Development Services and Visible Services and Housing Directorates respectively.

3.         That the Director of Resources be authorised to negotiate terms and conditions for the disposal by lease of the ground floor of the TIC building and the former Lifeguard building at the appropriate time in consultation with the Leader and Head of Legal Services.

4.         That the Head of Legal Services be authorised to prepare, complete and execute the required legal documentation.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that the building is used for office accommodation purposes related to the visitor and tourist destination of Barry Island.

2.         To declare the accommodation surplus to requirements prior to its disposal.

3.         To ensure that the Council's Statutory and Fiduciary obligations are met in the terms and conditions it grants for any lease or disposal.

4.         To legally formalise the disposal of the units.

 

Background

2.         Barry Island Tourist Information Centre (TIC) has been managed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council since 1991, on a seasonal basis between April and September.  , Visitor numbers to the Barry Island TIC have declined year on year from its peak in 1996 of 17,691 to 6,500 visitors in the 2012 season.  The top floor of Barry Island TIC was until last year occupied by the Police and the St John Ambulance who previously occupied part of the ground floor have also, since the middle of last year, vacated the building.

3.         The type of information that day visitors and holidaymakers require is now being made available from a variety of venues across the county including local attractions, activity providers, accommodation establishments, pubs, libraries and restaurants.  In addition the Council intends to keep on top of all new marketing trends and maximise the use of web-based and social media marketing to its potential in the future to help raise the profile of the Vale of Glamorgan as a holiday destination.

4.         In addition to a consideration of the former TIC building, cleansing officers currently utilise a small former Lifeguard building on the Promenade and the future use of this premise should also be considered.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         Over recent months, consideration has been given to the potential future use of the TIC building.  To assist in this consideration a property condition survey has been undertaken of the building which has assessed the condition of the building both internally and externally.  Whilst this has revealed that certain works would be required in terms of general upkeep and modernisation, the degree of work is minimal.

6.         Leading on from the above, the following facts are also of relevance when considering future use of the building and the former lifeguard building on the promenade.

·           The Council has invested considerable regeneration funding in Barry Island over the last 12 months with work focussing on the promenade and Eastern Shelter in order to improve the environment to the benefit of visitors and businesses;

·           This investment in Barry Island over recent years in respect of management of the beach and the surrounding environment;

·           The future aspirations relating to the Nell's Point site and the need to continue to seek a way forward in respect of the Funfair site;

·           The need to ensure that good working arrangements with traders continue into the future;

·           The focus on Barry Island for ongoing future regeneration activity, investment and events;

·           The current use of a Council owned promenade building by Visible Services staff relating to the cleansing function and the potential future use of that premises for business, commercial or visitor related purposes.

7.         In terms of the way forward, it is considered that the former Lifeguard premises on the promenade is situated in a prime position and its re-use for visitor related commercial use would provide an effective link between the existing commercial and visitor facilities at the Western shelter and the Western end of the promenade with the regeneration and investment at the Eastern promenade.

8.         Such a proposal would require the relocation of the cleansing staff to another location within the Island and it is proposed to provide a base for this small team within the TIC building.  This building would also provide accommodation for the Council's Tourism, Marketing and Events Unit.  Such a use would provide an 'on site' link with traders and visitors and would demonstrate the Council's ongoing commitment to Barry Island as a visitor and tourist destination within the Vale of Glamorgan and the wider region.  It would also allow a 'joined up' and proactive approach to resort issues, including links with traders and issues relating to traffic and car parking management.

9.         In the first instance, it is considered appropriate to accommodate the relevant staff within the first floor of the premises, whilst the ground floor of the premises can be offered on a lease basis, for appropriate uses.  It is therefore proposed that the ground floor of the building be declared surplus, along with the former Lifeguard building and the promenade. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.      It is expected that the leasing of the former Lifeguard building and the ground floor of the former TIC building will generate an annual rental, which will be used to offset the running costs outlined below in bringing the upper floor of the TIC back into beneficial use..

11.      Estates and Legal officers' costs will be incurred as a result of the disposal process.  It is anticipated that these costs will be met from any savings made from existing budgets.

12.      There are costs associated with the works required to the upgrading of the first floor of the TIC building to allow its use as office accommodation.  These costs are not significant.  In terms of the survey, the internal and external areas are deemed as being in satisfactory condition but will require general decoration and upkeep, along with some repair work to windows, fascias and soffits.  In addition there is also an indication that some electrical remediation work required as well as work to the heating system.  It is estimated that approximately £6500 of work is required to the electrical, mechanical and ventilation systems for the first floor with a similar sum required to upgrade the internal first floor of the building and elements of the external façade.  These works, including the ICT costs, will be funded from the Council's Building fund.

13.      In addition there will be ongoing costs that relate to business rates for the first floor of the building, estimated to be £5.5k and ongoing heating and lighting costs that at present are unknown.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

14.      The re-use of both buildings could attract a range of uses which in turn would reduce the need to travel and would add to the attractions available at Barry Island to residents and visitors.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.      The Council has a statutory duty pursuant to Section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972 to secure the best consideration that can reasonably be obtained for disposals (not including leases granted for less than 7 years) unless the Local Government Act 1972: General Disposal Consent (Wales) 2003 applies.  Officers will need to investigate whether planning permission is required for a mixed use of the former Tourist Information Centre and a change of use of the former Lifeguard Building depending upon the range of uses proposed. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.      The longer the TIC building remains vacant the greater chance of attracting vandals, graffiti and illegal occupiers of the property.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.      There are none attributed to this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

18.      Efficient management of the Council's property assets.  To dispose of redundant or under utilised Council assets is in accordance with the objectives of the Corporate Asset Management plan.

Policy Framework and Budget

19.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

20.      All Ward Members have been consulted on this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

21.      Corporate Resources

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services - 01446 704630

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager - Legal Services

Estates Officer

Principal Lawyer

Senior Accountant

 

Responsible Officer:

Director of Development Services

 

 

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