Consideration was given to a report that presented an update on the Ivybridge Regeneration Project following the meeting of the Development Management Committee held on 6 July 2022.
By way of an update, the Deputy Leader reminded those in attendance that planning permission had been refused by the Development Management Committee.
In view of this decision, the lead Member felt that it would be helpful to set out the project costs and proceeded to inform that:
- the Council report on 11 February 2021 had set out that the pre-construction costs could be up to £450,000. These were costs associated with: detailed design; the tender and planning process; and associated legal work on the agreement for the lease;
- in 2021/22, the Council spent £285,441 on the project and there had been further expenditure to date in 2022/23 of £83,484. As a result, there had been expenditure of £368,925 paid to date. Therefore, of the £450,000 referred to in the Council decision on 11 February 2021, the Council had currently spent £368,925 to date;
- there were also preliminary costs. As set out in reports to the Executive in June 2020 and September 2020, the preliminary costs totalled £115,000 and were for: planning; ecology; lease documents; and treasury management advice. As a consequence, the total expenditure incurred since 2019 amounted to £483,925 (£368,925 plus £115,000).
Following his update, the lead Member PROPOSED that:
1. the Ivybridge Regeneration Project be now terminated; and
2. it be noted that £483,925 has been invested into this Project.
(This was subsequently SECONDED).
In discussion, the following points were raised:-
(a) Notwithstanding the decision of the Development Management Committee, a Member advised that:
o there were a number of (non-vocal) residents who had been supportive of the proposals;
o the adopted Ivybridge Neighbourhood Plan was consistent in its reference to the need for town centre development and the wish for an ‘anchor’ business/store;
o it was disappointing that the Town Council had changed its mind mid-consultation and no longer supported the contents of its Neighbourhood Plan;
o the Council had spent £483,925 of public money on the basis of the initial feedback of 67% of local residents supporting the project and this being the only suitable site that complied with the Neighbourhood Plan.
(b) In calling for a lessons learned exercise to be undertaken by either the Overview and Scrutiny or Audit Committee, other Members felt that:
o as the project had evolved, it clearly became apparent that it did not suit the needs of Ivybridge, with their view being that the town was able to regenerate itself;
o the planning application had been sub-standard in their view, with a number of issues (including biodiversity and visual impact) having never been adequately addressed. As a result, the Members commended the Development Management Committee for unanimously voting to refuse the application and wished to highlight that no criticism should be made of the Planning Case Officer;
o the press release issued from the Council on 6 July 2022 did not set the right tone and required further clarification; and
o the approach to Consultation that had been adopted for this project did not fit with the conclusions reached by the Task and Finish Group review into Consultation and Engagement.
It was then:
1. That the Ivybridge Regeneration Project be now terminated; and
2. That it be noted that £483,925 has been invested into this Project.