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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 11 May, 2015

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

Former Housing Office, Aberaeron Close, Gibbonsdown, Barry

Purpose of the Report

1. To propose that the former housing office at Aberaeron Close, Gibbonsdown be leased to a voluntary sector organisation for the benefit of the local community.

Recommendations

1. That the former housing office be leased to "All Youth Matters", (formerly the Penarth Youth Project for the use of the community focusing on digital inclusion, financial inclusion and employment projects

 

2. That the Head of Finance be authorised to negotiate terms and conditions for the disposal by lease at a peppercorn rent of the former housing office at Aberaeron Close, Barry in consultation with the Director of Visible Services and Housing and Head of Legal Services.

 

3. 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 the benefit of the community as an integral part of the Council’s regeneration plans as set out in the Tackling Poverty grant obtained from the Welsh Government. 

 

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

 

3. To legally formalise the disposal of the office.

Background

2. The housing office, at Aberaeron Close has been empty for a number of years since its former occupant, Communities First, took up larger premises.

 

3. The building is structurally sound and well placed to deliver community based projects focusing predominantly on tackling poverty. 

 

4. In July 2014 the Council was successful in obtaining funding from Welsh Government under its Tackling Poverty fund.  This project contributes to two aspects of that scheme: fuel poverty reduction and working with the third sector to help facilitate co-located services.  The Gibbonsdown Ward scores highly in terms of the Wales Index of Multiple Deprivation

Relevant Issues and Options

5. Over recent months, consideration has been given to the future use of the building.   Officers have developed a scheme that not only brings the building back into use but creates a community focused resource. 

 

6. A community consultation event was held on the 30th October 2014, which identified the following as the priority areas for the community:

  • Services for young people
  • Training and employment workshops,
  • Access to the Council’s housing repairs service,
  • Access to computers with free Wi-Fi.

7. Officers worked closely with Gibbonsdown Tenants and the Residents' Association in planning and managing the day. 

 

8. Officers from the then Penarth Youth Project, (now All Youth Matters) a not for profit, third sector organisation, attended the event and were keen to operate from the building, i.e. managing the building  but more importantly encouraging and facilitating a range of projects for all ages within Gibbonsdown

 

9. Following analysis of the results of the consultation day and discussions with Gibbonsdown Tenants and the Residents' Association and the Penarth Youth Project it was  been agreed that the building should become a community hub, hosting projects that: give greater access to education and employment; focus on the challenges associated with digital inclusion, financial inclusion and fuel poverty and offer increased access to Council and other statutory and non-statutory services.

  • The building will also host the ‘peripatetic Energy Advice Officer’, employed by the Council, who will be able to use built in demonstration fittings for energy saving advice and ideas.
  • Grant monies have been used to create a modern venue which includes state of the art IT facilities with free Wi-Fi (similar to that of an internet café), a re-modelled kitchen facility with the flexibility to allow healthy eating and budget cooking demonstrations to be held and; office space and meeting room space for one on one meetings and group activities.
  • As a pilot it is also intended  to extend the free Wi-Fi access to homes within a short radius of the hub.
  • Since the consultation process the Penarth Youth Project has changed its name to ‘All Youth Matters’ to reflect its role as a group serving not specific location.

10. As a leaseholder 'All Youth Matters' will manage the building.  A peppercorn rent is proposed in recognition of the organisation’s contribution to the community regeneration objectives it is anticipated the hub will realise.

 

11. It deemed prudent that the Council agrees a three year lease in the first instance with a one year break clause to protect both parties entering into the agreement. If the hub is successful the lease arrangement could then be reviewed and extended, subject to agreement of terms and a further Cabinet report at that time.

 

12. Physical works on site are now complete, and subject to the negotiations proposed above it is anticipated that the project would open in May.  As yet the building has no name as it is intended to involve the local schools in a naming competition. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

13. The cost of the improvements to the building has been met from grant funding from Welsh Government. There will be no income from leasing the building. 

 

14. The Council will remain responsible for repair costs for the external fabric of the building, but vandalism is less likely if the building is in use and valued by the community.  Estates and Legal officers' costs will be incurred as a result of the leasing process.  It is anticipated that these costs will be met from existing budgets. 'All Youth Matters' will be responsible for the day to day running costs of the building.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

15. Using any vacant Council buildings enhances the aesthetic of the local area. A key focus of the hub will be tackling fuel poverty in the local area.  Providing services locally will reduce travel for customers to council offices. 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

16. The Council has a statutory and fiduciary duty pursuant to S123 of the Local Government Act 1972 to secure the best consideration that can reasonably be expected to be obtained for leases granted in excess of seven years, but it is proposed that this lease will be for a term of three years. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

17. The longer the building remains vacant the greater chance of attracting vandals, graffiti and illegal occupiers.  The activities promoted in the building and by the outreach work should contribute to tackling anti-social behaviour in the area.  The Vale Youth Service and the local police have been key partners during the development phase.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

18. It is a condition of the grant funding that signage be bi-lingual.

Corporate/Service Objectives

19. This will contribute to Priority Outcomes 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9 & 10 of the Community Strategy. 

Policy Framework and Budget

20. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

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

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

22. Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Alan Sinclair - Housing Management - Tel: 01446 709831.

Officers Consulted

Group Estates Officer

Committee Reports

Accountant

Responsible Officer:

Director of Visible Services and Housing

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