RVP car park part of £3million repair bill outlined in budget

RVP car park part of £3million repair bill outlined in budget
Royal Victoria Place car park, Tunbridge Wells

Among the recommendations put forward by the Council’s Finance, Policy and Development Director, Lee Colyer, is a small Council tax rise of £5 a year for a Band D property – the maximum permissible without a local referendum – taking the Council’s current take from £178.76 per annum to £183.76.

It comes after Kent County Council announced last week it too wishes to increase Council Tax by around £46 per year for the average household.

Mr Colyer, who presented his recommendations to the Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board, is also recommending a raft of new infrastructure schemes for 2020/2021, many of which are the result of the failed £108million Calverley Square project.

But the Council has also has been landed with a £855,000 repair bill to fix the ailing Royal Victoria Place [RVP] Car Park.

The multi-storey building that serves the town’s shopping centre is fully owned by the Council and leased under agreement to British Land, meaning TWBC remain responsible for repairs.

The Council, which is already contributing more than £1million of the £11million cost of renovating the inside of the shopping centre due to its lease arrangements with British Land, says without urgent repairs, the car park will ‘deteriorate, resulting in the fabric becoming more fragile and potentially dangerous’.

But the Council also says ‘upgrading of the RVP car park to a modern attractive parking facility which will be well-lit and easy to negotiate will set the scene for a good experience in the town. It will reflect the corporate priority of being a prosperous borough’.

Around £299,000 of the repair bill for the car park will have to be paid this year, while the remaining £554,500 will be due in 2021/2022.

The Council has said that going forward British Land has agreed to ‘undertake their own capital works and pay for them directly’ but the leases are not yet amended to reflect the current repair work, which has been in the pipeline for a ‘couple of years’.

Other schemes in the £3,072,050 ‘Capital Programme’ includes £625,000 for ‘large scale refurbishments’ to the Town Hall now that the Council has to continue to occupy the building following the collapse of its civic complex plans last year.

A new ‘Access Control’ security system is also being recommended at the Town Hall, at a cost of £56,350.

Taxpayers will also have to fund more than £800,000 worth of repairs to the Great Hall Car Park, which was to be the site of the Calverley Square theatre and is in danger of failing compliance rules – this too will be spread over two years.

TWBC also has to find £200,000 for repairs to 9-10 Calverley Terrace, the building that sits next to the Police Station.

The Council-owned building had been ‘mothballed’ with the presumption it would be sold off along with the Town Hall and Assembly Hall Theatre after Calverley Square was built, and as such its current state is described as ‘poor’.

Other investments being made include £55,000 for a new sound desk for the Assembly Hall Theatre, which will also have an additional £180,000 spent on repairs.

Also outlined in the report, which is to go before Full Council in February, is a commitment for new Christmas Lights for the town, at a cost of £66,000, and new changing facilities at Bayham Recreational Ground at a cost of £75,000.

The Council is also being asked to spend more than £50,000 at the Cinderhill traveller site near Matfield, primarily on a new sewage system.

A consultation is currently being conducted about the Council’s budget plans, which can be accessed at tunbridgewells.gov.uk/council/have-your-say/consultations/budget-consultation

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