To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources and the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure seeking Members to approve the acquisition of land from Gloucestershire County Council for the purpose of leasing it and additional land to Blackbridge Charitable Community Benefit Society (BCCBS) to build a community sports hub provided that certain pre-conditions are satisfied.
20.1 The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Andrew Lewis, introduced the report and explained that it proposed that Cabinet approve the acquisition of the freehold interest in land from Gloucestershire County Council, for the purpose of leasing the land plus additional land owned by the Council to Blackbridge Charitable Community Benefit Society (BCCBS) to build a community sports hub. He reminded the Committee that part of the land was currently subject to an outline planning application which was due to be considered by the Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday 4th July 2023.
20.2 Councillor Lewis expressed his support for the acquisition, noting that building a community sports hub in the south of the city would complement the Oxstalls facilities in the north. He also noted that the development of a community sports hub would support the aims of the Council’s Sports and Physical Activity Strategy.
20.3 The Chair confirmed that he supported the Blackbridge development and that he felt as the local ward Member for Podsmead that it was the right thing for the Council to do. He further commented that he felt that a 125-year lease was a positive move in that it would provide security and preserve the land for that particular use. The Chair referred to the legal implications set out at section 10 of the report and risk and opportunity management implications set out at section 11, and asked whether these indicated that there were significant risks around the proposals, or whether the Council was simply being diligent. The Asset Management Officer explained that with a large scheme, there would inevitably be risks involved and the provisions set out in sections 10 and 11 of the report aimed to address these risks and cover every eventuality.
20.4 The Chair commended BCCBS for their work in leveraging additional funding, observing that it was impressive for a charitable organisation to obtain such a significant contribution towards the estimated £5 million cost of the scheme. Councillor Lewis noted that the Council had supported BCCBS but had stepped back from driving this exercise.
20.5 Councillor Wilson commented that the scheme was impressive and uplifting, and expressed the view that a community sports hub would be a positive contribution to the city. He further noted that BCCBS should be commended for raising so much money for the scheme. Councillor Wilson referred to 3.11 in the report and requested clarification as to access arrangements which the Asset Management Officer provided.
20.6 Councillor Castle reflected on provisions at the Aspire Leisure facility and asked whether additional consideration needed to be given to car parking facilities at the sports hub. Councillor Lewis stated that parking provision was a matter which would have been considered by the Planning Committee when the initial Blackbridge Sports Hub application was determined back in June 2023 and noted that the Gloucestershire County Council Highways Team were satisfied that sufficient provisions were in place.
20.7 The Chair provided additional information around the proposed parking arrangements and stated that the scheme also included proposals for a dedicated entrance for pedestrians and cyclists by way of encouraging visitors to walk or cycle to the hub. He also noted that there was a bus stop nearby.
20.8 In response to further comments from Councillors Castle and Ackroyd, the Monitoring Officer reminded Members that the report related to acceptance of the transfer of land, and that as the Blackbridge Sports Hub had received planning permission back in June 2023, detailed arrangements would be delivered by a third party rather than the Council. Councillor Lewis also noted that issues raised by Members would have been taken into consideration during the planning stage.
20.9 The Chair suggested that if Committee Members had any further queries regarding the details of the scheme, they contact BCCBS or refer to the conditions of planning permission.
RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the report.