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News Archive > General > Council plans to renovate building

Council plans to renovate building

By Warren Wilkins 6th September 2017

Council plans to renovate building
The former Young People´s Centre on Mount Wise.

NEWQUAY Town Council has decided to push ahead with plans to bring a building back into use, which the authority controversially purchased for £451,000 two years ago.

Councillors have agreed for work to start renovating the former Young People’s Centre on Mount Wise into a community and commercial use facility.

The council states the building will be refurbished in such a way that it will provide flexible and modern work space as well as meeting rooms and parking. The building will incorporate hot desking facilities and opportunities for longer-term tenants, as well as housing the town council’s facilities and open spaces teams within part of the grounds, which will save on ongoing rent for units currently located in Colan.

Part of the project involves ensuring there will be space that community groups and organisations can book at reasonable rates, as well as the opportunity to explore registering some of the large meeting rooms to offer weddings and associated services, which it is hoped will generate reasonable levels of income to help fund what will be a community asset owned locally.

The town council believes the refurbishment works can be undertaken without the need to seek external finance and borrowing due to underspends as a result of delays in the Newquay Library and Information Service devolution from Cornwall Council, and savings from not running the building completely since purchasing it in 2015. Tenders are now being drawn up for the various works, which will be overseen by a quantity surveyor that has yet to be appointed.

Newquay Town Council voted to renovate the former Young People’s Centre at its extraordinary full council meeting last Wednesday. The decision was taken in line with the public consultation exercise undertaken in 2016, which showed that over 72% of respondents either agree or strongly agree that there is a need for a public amenity space with facilities for individuals, clubs and associations, as well as community activities.

The authority has previously been criticised for the purchase of the Mount Wise building as it was being offered the municipal building at Marcus Hill from Cornwall Council in exchange for taking on the library and One Stop Shop. The council has additionally been condemned for allowing the former hotel to become a blot on the landscape.

Mayor Cllr Margaret North said: “Newquay Town Council’s reticence in not carrying out work earlier was due to Cornwall Council’s slow deliberation regarding the transfer of Marcus Hill, Newquay Library and Information Service.

“Although a provisional date is now agreed for 2018, Newquay Town Council believe they cannot wait any longer, resulting in our decision to proceed with the renovation programme.”

Town clerk Andy Curtis added: “A key part of this project is to bring one of the few remaining historic buildings back into use for the benefit of the community. The building will have commercial aspects to it, in order to reduce the ongoing running costs that have been budgeted for already, and for those savings to either be reinvested in Newquay’s assets and services or go towards increasing the capacity of one of the growing number of services being delivered by the town council locally.

“At present the town council cannot release how much the proposed works will cost, as this commercially sensitive information would provide potential tenderers with how much money the town council has earmarked for the project, before they bid or submit quotes for works.

“However, in the interest of openness and transparency, at the earliest possible opportunity the town council will provide a full breakdown of costs and will publish this online and on its social media page for anyone to view.”

Cllr Andy Hannan said: “I fully support what the town council has decided. The council now wants to make sure it delivers what has been decided for the people of Newquay.”

Cllr Joanna Kenny was one of the few councillors who voted against the spend on the Mount Wise building.

Cllr Kenny said: “When the town council had no property of its own, I supported the opportunities that purchasing the Mount Wise building would give, but things have changed.   

“I have become increasingly uncomfortable as local council tax collected specifically to cover the inevitable costs of getting back the library and Marcus Hill buildings for the town have been, and will be, diverted to the Mount Wise building.  

“You can only spend the money once. I argued that we should have a vision for the whole council estate that was simply not available. It may well be that the Mount Wise building plays a valued and valuable role in the town council’s future.    

“But it may not. When dealing with money that belongs to the public, a leap of faith is no substitute for a well thought out business plan.”

By Warren Wilkins 6th September 2017

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