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					CABINET                                                   Agenda Item:      10
                             Ward:             Wells Central
                             Portfolio:        Corporate Finance & Resources

FROM:            Cllr. Alistair Glanvile       Date: 6th November 2006
                 Cllr. John Parham

SUBJECT:         WELLS RECREATION GROUND AND ASSOCIATED
                 PROPERTIES

Summary:              The purpose of this report is to update Cabinet on the current
                      position with Wells Recreation Ground, Bishops Barn and Park
                      Cottage, Silver Street, Wells.

Recommendation:       It is recommended that Cabinet approve Option 4:
                           - Transfer the ownership trusteeship of Wells Recreation
                               Ground and associated buildings to Wells City Council.
                           - To make a one off payment of £10K to Wells City Council
                               on completion of the transfer

Links to Priorities   Links to Priority of Better Resource Management - as the
and Impact on         recommendation seeks to transfer the ownership which will
Service Plans:        reduce liabilities on the Council.
                      Reduction in revenue and capital maintenance requirement and
                      insurance liability.

Financial             Reduction in Officer time in a number of Service Areas.
Implications:         The transfer will reduce the requirement to spend £145K from the
                      capital programme 2006.

Risk Assessment:      If Cabinet chose not to agree to the transfer of the property the
                      Council would have to continue the maintenance of this site and
                      find considerable capital to deal with a number of works required
                      in the next 3 – 5 years.

Scrutiny              Report not submitted to Scrutiny Board
recommendations
(if any):




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1. INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this report is to update Cabinet on the current position with Wells
Recreation Ground, Bishops Barn and Park Cottage, Silver Street, Wells (see
Appendix 1 – site plan).


2. BACKGROUND

The Council owns the freehold interest in Recreation Ground, Bishops Barn, Park
Cottage and a small area which forms part of Bell Close Car Park, (shrub bed and
front of several disabled spaces). The whole property is deemed to be held by the
Council under a charitable trust.

The Recreation Ground itself is held by the District Council for the benefit of the
inhabitants of Wells under the terms of a conveyance made in 1897 and is managed
by Street and Landscape Services. The site is approx 26,113 sq m of land, which
consists of an equipped play area, public convenience, band stand, a leased
bowling green, a large green area, footpaths, stone walls, hedges etc. There are a
number of trees which are covered by a Tree Preservation Order and the site is
within the Conservation Area. This site is in satisfactory condition but will require
works in the next 3-5 years.

The Bishops Barn was built in the 15th Century and is of national importance as a
Grade I Listed Building and is listed as an Ancient Monument. The Council has a
duty to manage and maintain this heritage building with care and sensitivity. The
asset requires significant repairs and maintenance.

Park Cottage is a detached property which was originally the park lodge. The
property has not been sympathetically maintained in the past and includes a number
of modern fixtures and fittings which are out of character with the history of the
property. Over the past 5 years the cottage has been occupied under a short term
residential let, this brings an income into the Council.

In March 2005 Cabinet considered a report and approved the freehold disposal of
Park Cottage in order to facilitate the major renovation of the Bishops Barn and to
provide an income for the future long term maintenance of the Recreation Ground.

After the decision had been made it was found that although the trust stated any
money made from the disposal of Park Cottage must be used to maintain and
improve the site, there are no financial regulations in place. Therefore the Councils
financial regulations are imposed this means that as the disposal would generated a
capital income, the money could only be used to fund capital repairs, unfortunately
some of the works required would not fall into this category.




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3. COSTS + INCOME

The following sets out the current costs of maintenance of the site together with
information on income and details of future maintenance:

Recreation Ground

Current Maintenance and other associated costs (per annum)        £
Running and maintenance Public Conveniences                 12,000.00 NDR
on Public Conveniences                                 1,200.00
Grass Cutting                                               11,700.00
Shrub Bed maintenance                                           315.00
Litter Bin Emptying                                             156.00
Site Cleaning and Cleansing                                      500.00
Band Stand Electricity                                          100.00
Repairs to Walls                                                500.00
                                                            -------------
                                                      Total 26,471.00
Income (per annum)                                                £
Bowls Club Lease                                                115.00


Other Information

Inspections
Equipped Play Area Inspections
EN1176-7 states that equipment and its components should have routine visual
inspections (once a week), operational visual inspections (1 to 3 per month) and
require an annual overall inspection (intervals not exceeding 12 months).

Goal Posts
Require regular safety inspections.

Insurance
The site must be covered by Public Liability Insurance

Other Works required (3-5 yrs)
Play Equipment
Replacement of play equipment@ over £20,000.00

Railings
These will need replacing over the next 5 years

Footpaths
These will need replacing over the next 5 years

Trees
Managing and maintaining trees approx. £9,000.00

Also the pollarded lime trees will require maintenance with the next 3-5 years


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BISHOPS BARN

Current Maintenance and other associated costs (per annum)                  £
NDR                                                                    1,045.00
Maintenance                                                            2,000.00
Electricity                                                              400.00
Sewage and Water                                                         260.00
Alarm Maintenance                                                        650.00
Licence                                                                  150.00
Building Insurance                                                       807.00
                                                                      -------------
                                                              Total    5,312.00

Income (per annum)                                                         £
Lettings (2005/06)                                                     2,900.00

Other Information
The property requires a number of repairs and maintenance works to bring the
building up to a good state of repair and to comply with DDA this has been costed at
approx £216K, this includes a Project Management fee + 15% contingency.

PARK COTTAGE

Current Maintenance (per annum)                                             £
Council Tax (Band F) (paid by tenant)                                  1,800.00
Letting Agency Commission                                              1,332.00
Building Insurance                                                        161.00
                                                                       ------------
                                                              Total    3,293.00

The Council currently have no budget for maintenance of this property.

Income (per annum)                                                         £
Rent                                                                  11,100.00
Council Tax (Band F) (paid by tenant)                                  1,800.00


Other Information
In February 2005 the property was valued at £410K to £475K.


4. CURRENT POSITION

In August 2005 the Council was asked to attend a meeting at Wells City Council to
discuss Wells Recreation Ground. This meeting took place in September 2005, at
this meeting the City Council expressed their interest in taking on the responsibility
of the site, including the Bishops Barn and Park Cottage as they felt the site could
be better managed and maintained at a local level, they also believed that the City


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Council would be in a position to apply for grants and funding to assist them in the
repairs to the Bishops Barn which would not be available to the District Council.
Once their letter was received by the District Council a stakeholder consultation was
undertaken, this resulted in no objections being received. A letter was sent to the
Charity Commission seeking their views, they gave no objections to the transfer of
the trusteeship, providing the transfer includes the small area of land which currently
forms part of Bell Close Car Park. Since then the Council Officers have met with the
Council Clerk and provided information on the cost of annual maintenance, details
on inspection regimes etc.
The City Council have indicated their wish to take on the responsibility of the site
from 1st April 2007, however in order to achieve this date the City Council have
asked the District Council, to assist them in meeting the cost of a following works to
the Bishop Barn which will be necessary in the first year by making a one off
payment of £10K:


      Repairs outside the main entrance to the barn
      To wire-brush and recoat walls
      To water-proof the bottom of the large doors in the left and right transepts
      To water-proof the emergency exit
      To bring the kitchen up to public health requirements by refitting units,
       repairing plaster and installing a non-slip floor.
      To install non slip flooring in the ladies and gents toilets and foyer area.

The works have been discussed with the Council’s Leisure Officer and he agrees
these works would considerably improve the Barn.


5. OPTIONS CONSIDERED

The following options have been considered:

Option 1 – Do Nothing and carry on as present
Continue to do nothing, the Council could eventually be the subject of Building
Repairs Notices on Bishop Barn and will continue to maintain the remainder of the
site.

Option 2 – Implement Cabinet decision March 05
Dispose of Park Cottage on the open market in order to facilate the major renovation
of the Bishops Barn. However, this would leave the Council with the continued
maintenance and insurance liability for the remainder of the site.

Option 3 – Implement Cabinet decision and transfer remainder of site to
           Wells City Council
The Council would be subject to two sets of legal costs, the cost of marketing, plus
continued maintenance during this period and Officer time.




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Option 4 – Transfer the ownership and trusteeship of Wells Recreation Ground
            and associated buildings to Wells City Council with a one off
            payment of £10K
Hence reducing the Councils outgoing by approx £11K in the first year and over
£21K per annum, thereafter, plus savings on other future maintenance. Also this
would be a reduction in the insurance liability, building insurance of £968, Officer
time etc, and would also provide a better service at a local level.
There would be no need to make provision for Capital works to the Cottage or the
Barn in the future.


6. RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended that Cabinet approve:

Option 4:-
   Transfer the ownership and trusteeship of Wells Recreation Ground and
      associated buildings to Wells City Council.
   Make a one off payment of £10K on completion of the transaction, subject to
      the following condition:
         The City Council agree to lease back a small area of land which forms
         part of the Bell Close Car Park for 99 years at a peppercorn rent.


7. REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION

Option 4 will reduce the Council’s outgoing by approx £11K in the first year and over
£21K per annum, thereafter, plus savings on other future maintenance.
There would also be a reduction in the insurance liability, building insurance of £968,
Officer time etc, and would also provide a better service at a local level.
There would be no need to make provision for Capital works to the Cottage or the
Barn in the future



Contact Officers:    Mrs. A Kent
Ext No:              482




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