At an extra-ordinary meeting of the Full Town Council last night (Monday 22 November) Councillors decided, after a long and thorough discussion not to proceed with plans to develop a new workshop for the Grounds Team adjacent to the Golf Club and Tennis Club.
Why? Cost. The original concept was to move the Grounds team from their base on the edge of the Salisbury Road Recreation Ground and move to a new site behind the Tennis Club. This was budgeted a while back, but recently the effects of the pandemic and Brexit have escalated costs by an enormous amount – the wood and steel alone required for the proposed structure have doubled in recent months, whilst the cost of concrete has also increased massively.
And another ‘hazard’ which would have increased the cost significantly was the need to shift a substantial quantity (est. 3,000 tonnes) of soil, some of which was classed as ‘contaminated’, and even any ‘good’ and uncontaminated soil would have to be ‘removed’ rather than ‘moved’, all of this would require specialised licences operators to carry out – at a cost, which was not – as yet – properly estimated.
So, rather than subject residents to a significant precept increase to cover, or to take out an (admittedly cost-efficient) ‘Public Works Loan’ the decision was made to re-evaluate the existing site for re-development and growth and put the plans to build on the proposed site ‘on hold’.
The agreed way forward is set out below:
A proposal was made not to go forward with the plans for the Common, but to put together plans for redevelopment of the existing site within budget. This was amended to place the plans to build on the Common site on hold until more was known about the possibilities at the Salisbury Road site. An amendment to also investigate rental options was not supported.
RESOLVED: (i) to put the plans for a new workshop on a site at Marlborough Common on hold and
RESOLVED: (ii) to develop an alternative plan to refurbish and develop the existing workshop at the Recreation Ground site, within the current budget
There was another issue to consider: ownership. Whilst the current site is owned by the Town Council, the proposed site near to the Golf Club and Tennis Club is not. Therefore, with a significantly increased prospective cost required, the risk would similarly increase, were – at some point – this land be required for an alternate use thus forcing the Council to vacate and rethink workshop space and facilities.
This unknown element would have it’s own cost risk, greater now that the required expenditure had gone up by so much.
So likely the Grounds team will continue to operate from the base adjacent to the Salisbury Road Rec., for the immediate future – certainly – but maybe for a far longer time. Although if the latter becomes reality, at least their facilities will be upgraded to accommodate all equipment and functionality required.