MANOR HOUSE REDEVELOPMENT
13th February 2023
At the Full Council meeting of Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council on Thursday 9th February 2023, the Council approved the next steps for the redevelopment of Manor House to provide multipurpose space for community use, meeting rooms, an exhibition venue, office space and the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) suite.
The Council agreed to apply for a Public Works Loan Board loan of £1,100,000 over the borrowing term of 25 years, alongside £700,000 of earmarked reserves, for the redevelopment. The Council also approved delegated authority to the Town Clerk to act as Sponsor for the project, through to completion, opening of the new building and the decant process from our existing premises, with updates at each Full Council Meeting.
Manor House was purchased on 30th July 2020, and the acquisition of this property by the Town Council has always been seen as facilitating provision of the highest quality services for the community in years to come. This is a major project for our town, and the redevelopment is expected to be completed by May 2024.
CAR PARK CLOSURE
13th December 2022
The Car Park will be closed from Monday 19th December 2022 for 10 weeks (weather dependant) for Wales & West Utilities to use to store vehicles / facilities, whilst they carry out repair works on the High Street.
We thank residents for their co-operation.
MANOR HOUSE PROJECT
Below are draft plans, please click on each image to view enlarged in a new window.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
5th January 2023
Why did the Town Council purchase Manor House?
The location of Manor House, despite not being on the High Street, is just 0.2 miles from the High Street about a five-minute walk away. It is also very close to the leisure centre, the police station and the secondary school. There are bus stops very close to the site.
The present Town Council office at 117 High Street was purchased at a cost of £231,160 around 1997 and is the council’s main office. The current location of the Town Council is already too small for our current purposes, and the Disability and Equality Act 2010. This is a freehold property and there are no loan secured on it.
The council require more community space and regularly receives requests from local groups who can’t be accommodated in other venues across the town, and as more responsibility is moved to local councils from Wiltshire Council the need for more space will become increasingly pressing. We have looked at alternative sites previously but decided agains as they were too far away from the High Street.
The previous council office at the Civic Centre, Old Court, Station Road was sold in 2015 for £412,114 and monies were used to purchase Merchant House in the High Street, to the right of the walkthrough to Boroughfields Shopping Precinct.
Merchant House was purchased in 2015 as an investment to generate income for the council. It consists of 7 retail units and 2 residential flats, was purchased on 30th October 2015 at a cost of £636,442 and the council has spent £207,130 to improve it, making total cost of Merchant House to be £843,572. This is a freehold property and there are no loans secured on it.
Merchant House is now fully occupied both in retail and residential units. It generates approximately around £55,000 in rental income, which helps to keep the precept down.
Manor House was purchased on 30th July 2020 at a cost of £591,019 and it requires substantial improvement work and hence the Town Council is seeking to borrow money from Public Works Loan Board.
A project manager and architects have been appointed and the outline floor plans including community space, meeting rooms, an exhibition venue, office space and the CCTV suite. Plans are available for residents to view in the reception area of the Town Council office, 117 High Street, or see images above. Representatives from the architect’s firm were at the public event on Saturday 26th November 2022.
For information, the Church Street Allotments were purchased on 4th November 2020 at a cost £147,817 consisting of 170 allotment plots and 16 car park spaces. The allotment generates around £6,300 per annum income and all the income is spent to maintain the allotment and car parking spaces. This is a freehold property and there are not loans secured on it.
When were Council decisions made?
All agendas, minutes and decisions of the council are available on this website.
February 2019 discussed at Full Council
Councillors discussed the potential of Manor House and that the Council needed more community space and office space. RESOLVED to seek acquisition of Manor House and to set up a working party to include councillors.
August 2019 discussed at Full Council
The Council authorised purchase of the property at £550,000 in accordance with the valuation agents report.
July 2020 discussed at Full Council
The Council was reminded that Manor House is considered a strategic purchase, identifying it as having a key role to play with its interaction with the community and future development of the Council.
Wiltshire Council imposed a formal 30-day deadline (end of July 2020) for the contract documents to be signed and returned. It after the 31st July 2020 the documents are not received, then Wiltshire Council would request the contract documents back and resume marketing the site on open market.
RESOVLED to proceed with the purchase and authorise the Mayor and Deputy Mayor to sign the contract papers.
Purchase completed 30th July 2020 at a cost of £591,019.
How much it is going to cost?
The estimated construction cost including fees and contingency is £1.8 million and an expected build time of 12 to 15 months. To finance the project, the Town Council will use £700,000 from allocated reserves as well as seeking borrowing approval from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) for £1.1 million.
The cost of borrowing £1.1 million would approximately be £79,000 per annum over a 25-year term on fixed interest rates with the Public Works Loans Board, this figure is based on the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate (LIBOR) which changes daily.
The above figure is the interest rate obtained on 20th October 2022. Subject to public consultation, the Town Council intends to increase the council tax precept from 2024 – 2025 to meet the borrowing costs.
Will my council tax for Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council (precept), go down after Manor House is paid for?
The precept will go up from 2024 – 2025 by 7.3% approximately based on the current calculations and yes, the precept will reduce once the loan is completed.
Will you sell the Council office at 117 High Street?
The current Town Council office will either be sold to raise capital or renovated and rented out to generate an income stream, this had not been decided yet and we need to consider our options.
Why don’t Wiltshire Council pay for it?
Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council is the owner of the Manor House and therefore, the council is responsible for its improvement and maintenance.
The services provided by a Town Council like ours, and a Unitary Authority like Wiltshire Council or Swindon Council are very different – although funded by the overall Council Tax.
Wiltshire Council has responsibility for roads and highways, planning, adult & children social care, children’s education, libraries, community safety, leisure, housing, rubbish and recycling, trading standards, public health, registration services and parking enforcement.
Manor House will be for the community of our town and a home for the Town Council.
Why do we have to borrow from Public Works Loan Board and not from the High Street Bank?
Normally the High Street banks lends money to businesses and sometime with a fixed rate of interest for a limited time, i.e. 2 years, 3 years, 5 years and after that loans are renegotiated.
The banks usually do not lend money for longer period with a fixed rate of interest for the duration of the loans. The uncertainty does not help when the council set up the budget as every so many years interest rates changes, and the loan has to be renegotiated and the instalment changes.
Public Works Loan Board is managed by the HM Treasury where they lend money to Town and Parish Councils with a fixed interest rates for the duration of the loan period. This period can vary from 1 year to 50 years and during this loan period the interest rates is fixed, and this helps the council to set up the future budget as the instalments will remain the same during the whole loan period.
We need another GP Surgery, why can’t you use Manor House for that?
GP surgeries are not the responsibility of a Town Council, they are run as a business owned by Doctors (GP Partners) – a GP surgery has only one contract and that is with the NHS, and apart from a small amount of private work, exclusively for the NHS. The local commissioning organisation, now called an Integrated Care Board, decides when and where new GP surgeries are required.
What happens next?
The public consultation ended on Wednesday 21st December 2022 and included a public event that took place on Saturday 26th November 2022 when residents came to discuss the Manor House scheme with Councillors and the architects.
Collation of the consultation results will happen in January 2023, and a report to Full Council setting out the business case and outcome of the public consultation by March 2023.
If approved by Full Council, then the Loan Application for £1.1 million will be made to the Public Works Loan Board (this will be a fixed rate for the 25-year duration of the loan). This application includes the Council report, business case, outcome of public consultation.
A tender process will start at the same time, following strict guidance.
The build phase can then start with an estimated competition date of March/April 2024.
Further information or more questions?
If you have further questions or would like more information on this project, then either use our contact form, call 01793 850522 or pop into the council office during opening hours, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For previous news items, please click here.