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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 11/07/2006
Brightwells Bowls Club, Farnham - Options



APPENDIX E
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE – 11TH JULY 2006

Title:
BRIGHTWELL BOWLS CLUB, FARNHAM - OPTIONS

[Wards Affected: All Farnham Wards]

Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

The Annexe to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in Paragraph 5 of Part I of the revised Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, viz:-

Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings (Paragraph 5 (formerly paragraph 12))

Summary and purpose:

At its meeting on 13th June 2006, the Executive considered the five options set out in the attached report and the (Exempt) Annexe . The Executive requested more detail on the options but highlighted a preference for the option of relocating the Brightwell Bowls Club in Farnham to a new location (investigating opportunities for merging with another club and providing new or improved facilities). This report sets out the detailed findings in relation to this option and additional information relating to the other four options.
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Environmental implications:

Any property redevelopment has significant environmental implications. The options to be reviewed will consider the environmental implications in detail. If the bowling green is moved from the East Street development, it is the intention that the area that it occupied would be retained as a public 'green’ space.

Social/community implications:

As well as providing an active pursuit, which aids the health and well being of the members, the Bowls Club also provides a focus for social interaction albeit for a relatively small number of people. When considering the options available it is proper to give consideration to the impact on the provision of social opportunities for members of the club, as a factor to be weighed appropriately in making a decision on the options.

The East Street Scheme will provide a much-improved environment with more social, employment and retail opportunities for the community. Any decisions taken relating to the scheme must consider the implications in respect of the wider community benefits.

E-Government implications:

There are none arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

The resource and legal implications arising from each option are set out in detail in the body of the report and the Exempt Annexe. In May, Members were informed of the significant potential value of moving the Bowls Club from the East Street development area. This value could arise from the potential commercial rent achievable from the area currently designated for the Bowls Clubhouse. The majority of any additional value generated would increase the capital premium that the Council will receive.

Introduction

1. At the Council meeting on 17th May, officers were asked to report back to the Executive in July further detail relating to the various options for the Brightwell Bowls Club.

Background

2. Brightwell Bowls Club was established in 1925. It currently has 80 members. The current membership fees are 50 per year. Brightwell Bowls Club is situated on land owned by the Council. As part of the historic arrangements the club are required to make available a rink to the public on a pay and play arrangement, however to officers’ knowledge the general public have not requested this facility. The Council currently charges the Brightwell Bowls Club 2,800 p.a. rent for the exclusive use of 5 rinks weekdays and whole use on Sundays. The Council also meets the costs of the annual maintenance programme for the green, which is carried out by the Council’s Grounds Maintenance Contractor. The annual cost of the maintenance is approximately 5,100 (excluding irrigation maintenance and any additional works which may arise).

3. Within Farnham Town there are in total four bowls clubs. The other clubs include Farnham, Gostrey and The Bourne Royal British Legion. Having met with the three other clubs it is acknowledged that for Farnham and The Bourne there is capacity for new members. Both of these clubs recognise the importance of attracting new members in the future to maintain their future viability.

4. As an authority Waverley Borough Council does not have a statutory responsibility for the provision of sports facilities, however in support of the Waverley Cultural Strategy key aims include improving access to cultural and leisure facilities and maximising resources by working in partnership, proactively and strategically. Given the current level of provision and the increasing costs and complexities associated with the retention of the Brightwell facility within the development, members have requested an investigation into alternative proposals relating to the provision of bowls within Farnham .

5. Options

6. The programme presented by the developer (See (Exempt) Annexe to Appendix F.1) highlights a minimum period of two and a half years during which the green will be unavailable for use. Members may wish to know that the club has stated that if a closure were to be longer than one playing season then this is likely to result in the disintegration of the existing Brightwell Bowls club.

7. Option 2 Provide a bowls green within the scheme on the current site with an artificial surface and new clubhouse.

8. Whilst the time taken to install an artificial playing surface would be shorter than that of a turf surface, given the logistics associated with the scale of construction in particular the creation of underground car parking there will still remain a significant period of closure associated with this option beyond one season.

9. Option 3 Relocate the existing club to a new facility at Riverside.

10. The Council is being asked to agree to the provision of 300 parking spaces on the Riverside site. This significantly reduces the capacity of this site and therefore in order to relocate the bowls club onto this site it would be necessary to build both the pavilion and the green above the flood level. This would require the existing ground levels to be raised and flood compensation works to be carried out and possibly further contamination remediation works, this could add in the order of 250,000 (note this figure is an estimate and could be more depending upon site investigations) to the overall costs.


11. Option 4 Relocate the existing club to a new location (investigate opportunities for merging with another club and providing new or improved facilities).

12. The Bourne Royal British Legion Club (BRBLC) operates as a registered charity with limited liability status. It is a non-profit making company that exists as a communal centre for ex-servicemen and civilian members alike of which there are about 150 members at present. The club functions in accordance with the rules laid down for all Royal British Legion Clubs in the UK. The Club contributes annual sums to the controlling body (Poppy Day appeals etc) but receives no financial aid or assistance whatsoever as the club is deemed to be an autonomous entity. The Club wholly owns unencumbered the freehold building and land, which measures approximately one acre on Burnt Hill Road, Lower Bourne. 13. In order to make the club more viable in recent years, non servicemen and other community residents have been encouraged to join with the result that this group now accounts for the predominant membership of the club. 14. The club caters for a variety of activities that includes bowls, darts, snooker, skittles and card games in addition to organised dances and quizzes. Other sources of income are derived from private bookings of the facilities with the largest income coming from The Bourne Nursery School, which operates daily. The club is the only social club in the area other than a tennis and squash club, which attracts a different type of clientele. 15. Last year the BRBLC submitted a planning application for an enabling development on their existing site. The aim of this development was to provide a capital receipt to be used to replace the clubhouse. The existing club house given its age and type of construction needs to be replaced, the club does not have the resources to replace or upgrade the building to meet its future needs therefore needed an enabling development (in this case a residential element) to fund their costs. Given the scale of the proposed development and the constraints of the site this planning application was rejected. 16. The club now faces an uncertain future and with declining numbers needs to find ways to a) secure its future in terms of providing a suitable building, which can be maintained, and b) to attract new members to the club. If no solution can be found then it is likely that this valuable social provision could be lost to the local area. 17. In relation to bowls, the club has a small dedicated bowls clubroom specifically for the use of the bowls section. The bowls section has 34 playing members and the annual subscription is 25pa (OAPs 20 pa) plus 1.50 green fee for each match. Whilst the playing facilities may have the capacity for 30 – 40 new members, given the league fixtures and the small club room facilities it is not feasible to consider the joint use of the site by two separate clubs. There are also significant issues relating to the capacity within the locality in relation to car parking and traffic and additional members would compound these existing problems. 18. The Club have indicated that they would like to consider relocating to another site in the Lower Bourne locality. Their proposal would be to realise a capital receipt from the sale of their freehold, which could be used to fund the development of new facilities on an alternative site. However to date no alternative sites have been identified by the club. 19. The Club Chairman has indicated that if a suitable site could be found then BRBLC may be prepared to enter into an agreement relating to the provision of shared clubhouse and playing facilities with Brightwell Bowls Club. It is assumed that the cost of developing the new facilities for the BRBLC on a new site would be met by the BRBLC from the receipt of their existing site. 20. Officers have identified a site within its ownership, which could potentially be considered as an alternative location for the new BRBLC facilities. The site identified is Langhams Recreation Ground situated on the Ridgeway. There would be a need to negotiate some form of value in the lease of any land offer to protect the future integrity of the BRBLC but this could form part of the offer between both parties if this project were to proceed. 21. The Recreation Ground is not currently used for formal recreation purposes. There is one set of swings and the area is mainly used for dog walking. The site has capacity to accommodate a bowling green and built facility and still provide a sizeable area for dog walking. There are also issues relating to parking along this stretch of the Ridgeway, if a small area of off-road parking could be accommodated at the entrance to the recreation ground this may assist in addressing some of the local congestion. 22. Whilst this is an initial possibility there would be significant work required to develop this proposal into a feasible plan. There are a number of factors, which would need to be resolved for this proposal to be realised including some significant planning and property matters. 23. Farnham Bowls Club was founded in 1878 and played at the Bush Hotel Green until 1938 when their new green in Bear Lane was opened. Farnham Bowls Club currently has approximately 60 members. The club state they have capacity to accommodate an additional 40-50 members however, like The Bourne they have significant parking difficulties which they believe are impacting on the membership and their ability to attract new members. The membership fees for the club are 75 per annum. This is a well-established club with a long history. The club indicated that whilst they may be able to accommodate new members within their club it would not be feasible for two clubs to share facilities given the size and the facilities and nor would they wish to accommodate another club either on their existing site or any new site. 24. The club is also looking to relocate to a new location where parking provision could be improved. Top date they have had discussions with a developer for their current site but have yet to find a suitable alternative site for their club facilities. 25. This club was established in 1913 and unlike the other bowls club has a relatively small green (only 3 rinks in size) and a very small pavilion. The membership is currently 27 and its capacity is only 30, therefore limited capacity to absorb new members. Given the size of the green Waverley charges an annual rental of 1,200. The Council’s grounds maintenance contractor carries out the maintenance. The club describes itself as more of a social bowls club with members playing in the Farnham and area league as the green itself does not meet the larger County based league requirements, therefore this club would not suit more competitive bowling members.

26. Officers have raised option 4 with Brightwell Bowls Club but at the time of writing this report the club was not in a position to give a view.
27. Option 1 and 2 will not provide the opportunity to generate the additional value from the development that would potentially be received from commercial rent from the new bowls clubhouse area. The cost of an artificial surface, as described in Option 2, is not included in the east Street financial appraisal and the Council would have to identify the necessary budget within its capital programme. Option 3, to relocate the facility to Riverside would require additional costs to be deducted from the East Street capital premium. The financial implications of Option 4 would depend on the outcome of the investigations undertaken. Members would receive full financial details as appropriate.

Conclusion

28. Given the complexities associated with the East Street regeneration scheme, it is now apparent that there are a number of financial and operational issues relating to the retention and provision of the Brightwell Bowls Club. In order for the developer to proceed with a Planning Application the Executive must consider in full, the options as presented in this report and make a recommendation on which option the Council should purse. This recommendation will be considered by the Council at its meeting on July 18th.

29. Members also need to be aware that if they decide to pursue any option other than option 1 then further consideration will have to be given to the impact of that variation of the required elements in the conditional agreement and the Master Plan.

Recommendation

Given the implications set out in this report for options 1,2 and 3 Management Team recommend to the Executive that:-

1. Option 5 be pursued in the first instance; and

2. officers be instructed to carry out further investigations relating to Option 4 and report back at a future meeting.

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Background Papers (DoEL)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Julie Maskery Telephone: 01483 523432

E-mail: jmaskery@waverley.gov.uk


Comms/executive/2006-07/99