Report of the Executive Director - People
Further to Minute No. 14 above the Cabinet considered the report of the Executive Director – People on the detailed proposals for the provision of a library- led new facility in Crosby, built to the highest environmental standards and providing highly accessible service provision in a sustainable location. Work had been progressed in developing designs and feasibility studies to help fix the nature of a new facility. This work formed the basis for two funding bids through the Levelling Up Funding (LUF) rounds, the first round providing positive feedback and encouragement for a second-round bid in 2022 which unfortunately again failed to gain support in a very competitive process where 80% of bids nationally failed to gain support from the Government.
Based on the LUF first round feedback and the status of Sefton as a Levelling Up Tier 3 priority (the lowest tier as ranked by Government LUF Criteria), alongside work to prepare and submit the Round 2 LUF bid, officers were also asked to twin track alternative options for delivering what was a widely supported scheme for building a new library health and well-being facility.
This work is now complete and an Outline Business Case (OBC) had been produced in support of the project and the OBC had informed the report and the recommendations.
The report indicated that the following factors combine to provide a strong imperative case for the new facility:
· The existing Crosby Central Library and Civic Hall have long-standing and significant issues relating to the condition of the building, bringing the long-term viability, in retaining the buildings, into question. Key elements of the building are reaching the end-of-life stage and there is a risk that those elements would be deemed beyond repair if they fail.
· Working conditions for staff in the building are not conducive to a modern working environment. Furthermore, the nature of the buildings and the changing needs of the service indicate the need for a new format for the library, providing the opportunity to grow the service in line with changing needs of the community/library users.
· The existing library also presents a major challenge in terms of the Council’s Climate Emergency declaration and linked objectives of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. This is due to the nature of the building itself and the significant costs identified to address the very poor energy performance of the site.
· The Green Car Park site in Crosby Village Centre was identified, in the adopted Crosby Investment Strategy, as presenting an opportunity to deliver a development site, which could help with the long-term viability and vitality of the village centre. The site is ideally located to provide an alternative location for a new library facility with very good access supported by bus, rail and car travellers. Also, with the imminent introduction of highways improvements linked to sustainable travel, the site will benefit from greatly improved accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.
· The existing Central library site is identified as a good opportunity for housing led regeneration with new homes and/or a mix of uses on the site complementary to the surrounding area. A Planning Brief (Appendix B) has been prepared for the site which supports the principles of regeneration and the opportunity to deliver a positive outcome for the local community.
· The condition of health facilities in the central Crosby area has been a concern for some time. The South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group acknowledged in their High-Level Estate Primary and Community Health Service Requirement for the Crosby Village that:
‘Current primary care premises in the area are generally not fit for purpose and lack the capacity to deliver current, let alone future integrated and extended health services.’
· This, alongside discussions with the Primary Care Network (PCN) and local GP providers, indicated a strong interest in being part of a shared facility in Crosby Village should the Council progress a new library, providing for the Library requirements alongside other health and wellbeing provision.
· This type of facility is now increasingly common across the country providing support across a wide range of health commissioned services and wider social prescribing models.
Decision Made: That
(1) the significant risk to service delivery associated with the condition of existing Crosby Central Library facility be noted;
(2) the content of the Outline Business Case for Crosby New Library as set out in Appendix A to the report and associated design development which has informed that work to date be noted;
(3) It be noted that the capital cost of delivering the preferred options for the full scheme is currently estimated to be £13.8m. This cost will be subject to further review as part of the development of the Full Business Case (FBC). This includes the detailed full and final design necessary to develop the FBC for this project which are estimated to be £1.02m. These costs will be funded from the Growth Budget initially and then repaid on approval of the FBC;
(4) It be noted that should the FBC not be approved, then it will not be possible to capitalise the design costs of £1.02m and they would therefore need be funded from revenue resources. It is proposed that these would be funded from the following: £0.62m Growth Budget; £0.10m virement from the Libraries Capital Programme; and the remaining £0.3m found from within the Communities Service budget;
(5) the Executive Director - Place be authorised to commence an appropriate procurement process to deliver the Crosby New Library development in the manner outlined in the report based on the preferred options 3 and 8, to produce a Full Business Case to accompany final design and delivery proposals and submit a further report to Cabinet to confirm costs and seek authorisation to contract the works;
(6) the Executive Director - Place be authorised to commence an appropriate soft market testing of the existing site based on the Planning Brief prepared for the purpose of informing such an exercise; and
(7) It be noted that as part of the process of developing the Full Business Case (FBC) the Executive Director - People will carry out an exercise to inform the effective and efficient transfer of library services to the proposed new site in Crosby.
Reasons for the Decision:
Do nothing is not an option in addressing the pressing need to identify a suitable way forward in dealing with the issues linked to the physical condition of the existing Library facility and the associated risk to service delivery.
Delivering the scheme will provide certainty for service delivery to the Council the development will strengthen local economic conditions for Crosby Village. Together with the inclusion of Health and Wellbeing facilities the new centre will significantly increase footfall in Crosby Village supporting long term the viability and vitality of the village. The new centre will provide the opportunity to enhance existing library services and also present new opportunities to community-based health providers where there is a directive to improving and enhancing community-based provision such as diagnostics as identified in the NHS Long Term Plan.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected:
The nine options for the delivery of the objectives of the project were considered, which are detailed in the outline business case, Appendix A exempt and Appendix E redacted.