A report by the Director of Property and Assets regarding the proposal to regenerate the Broadbridge Heath Highway Depot declared surplus to operational requirements in 2018.
The Committee is asked to review the draft decision report attached as the Annex documentand make any comments to the Cabinet Member for Finance ahead of the decision being taken.
103.1 The Committee considered the draft Endorsement: Broadbridge Heath Retail Scheme decision report by the Director of Property and Assets (copy appended to the signed minutes).
103.2 The Cabinet Member for Finance introduced the report and highlighted that the Highways Depot site has been redundant since being declared surplus in 2018. The development design holds good potential for generating income and aligns with the commercial and retail use as designated in Horsham District Council’s Local Plan. The proposed tenants are secure blue-chip retail companies and a pre-let agreement will be signed before development begins.
103.3 The Director of Property and Assets introduced the report. It was highlighted that the council regenerating the site ensures autonomy over its design, will increase employment in the local area, and provides the council with a revenue return.
103.4 The Committee made comments in relation to the draft Broadbridge Heath Retail Scheme decision report, including those that follow. It:
· Reflected on the effect of out of town retail developments on the economic decline of High Streets. The Cabinet Member for Finance reiterated the area is designated for retail in the Local Plan and that the potential tenants would not consider High Street units.
· Supported increasing revenue income to the council for future budget setting, and welcomed the predicted 6.91% yield on the development.
· Raised positive and negative views about the effect of the pandemic and related national lockdowns on the retail industry in the changing economic environment.
· Noted the viability study for the development was undertaken in 2019, suggested this be reviewed to ensure it is still viable before taking the scheme forward, and recommended that a sensitivity analysis be undertaken to ensure the scheme remains financially viable when different variables and risks are taken into account. The Director of Property and Assets confirmed officers are confident in the predicted development costs and hold planned contingency funds which should not be required, and that the investment return will be constantly monitored.
· Encouraged that tenants be locked in before development begins. The Director of Property and Assets confirmed tenants will be locked in via an Agreement to Lease
· A Member suggested amendments be made to strengthen the recommendations in the draft decision report. There was agreement that recommendations 1 and 3 be amended and that a further recommendation 6 be added that both recommendations 3 and 4 be contingent and provisional on the other [as detailed in the recommendations below].
· Highlighted the use of private vehicles by shoppers to access out of town retail units and raised concerns on whether the proposed development supports the council’s commitment to tackling climate change. Suggested mitigation measures be considered to relieve the carbon footprint and increase the site’s green credentials, which could include electric vehicle (EV) charging points and solar panels. Including a significant number of EV points was particularly highlighted in relation to the Government’s focus on ending manufacture of petrol and diesel vehicles. The Director of Property and Assets confirmed that as many measures as practical will ... view the full minutes text for item 103