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Grave Misgivings about Council Multi Storey Scheme

Home / Blog / Grave Misgivings about Council Multi Storey Scheme
18
Jul
At a Cabinet Meeting of Swale Borough Council on Wednesday (July 16th) it was agreed to go ahead with plans for a £3 million plus multi storey car park on a site in St Michaels Road, Sittingbourne.

The plan will be funded either through the use of reserves, or borrowing, or a combination of both. The Council has taken this step because developers have made it clear that there will be no further development unless Swale Borough Council first commissions, or even starts construction, in advance.

The Labour Group says it has “grave misgivings” about this whole process. They suggest that the Council may be getting out of its depth; that it is putting itself in a vulnerable position and that it is likely to be using Council reserves to save face on what has always been a weak project. They point out that it is conceivable that having built the car park, the developers do not deliver. What is also probable, they say, is that developers will make more and more demands, knowing that having committed so much funding, the Council will not be able to withdraw.

Labour Group Leader Mike Haywood says

“Swale’s Tory Leader Cllr Bowles is throwing money at a multi-story car park because the developers are refusing to take the risk and pay for it themselves. £3 million of taxpayers’ money is an astonishing amount to throw at something without knowing the odds of success.”

“The Council have been forced to commit the funding because they know they cannot provide a cinema without it, but there is no guarantee it will be built or that the Town can sustain one with 7 screens. They lack the expertise; they don’t build car parks or cinemas. They are going in on a whim.”

“At the same time, they are cutting car parking spaces and making many long stay, like the one in Albany Road, despite the impact this will have on the High Street.

“The High Street itself is completely divorced from these proposals. Its future hangs in the balance – just the Town Centre’s chances are of securing a better future.”

Shadow spokesman for economic growth Roger Truelove says,

“We have always had doubts about the viability of the Spirit of Sittingbourne project. The idea of Swale Borough Council funding a £3 million plus car park was never part of the original agreement. There was a long period of inaction and then the developers came back with this demand on the Council. We don’t want to say this, but we are still very dubious and we fear that Swale is going to be left with a white elephant and a substantial hole in reserves. There is an element of trying to save face after years of disappointment”




Comments

Showing comments 1 to 3 of 3

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If the developers feel that they need £3m to coerce them to action, how viable is this project for us to then fund? There is a predicted yield of 5% from this investment but there is also a £115,000 income reduction (real money coming in today) by closing the existing car parks - net yield 1.2%. For a £3m investment!

In addition this scheme ruins the long stay parking near to the station, with the multistorey opposite the train station being short term only! The council may not like it, but Sittingbourne is a commuter town and the options proposed make it more difficult and/or more costly for people who drive to the station. £3m for a reduction of 47 spaces in long term parking. Get real!
Comment by Mark Bailey on 22 Jul 2014
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The council should have offered a counter proposal of matching the developers pound for pound. That way the developers would have shown commitment to investment, we would have halved our liability/risk.

Though unless the multi-story houses 500+ cars it will not likely cover the lost parking and increased footfall projected by developers.

It doesn't take a massive IQ to figure this all out !
Comment by John on 21 Jul 2014
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Oh dear. It is worrying to hear these concerns. Investing 3 million of council money when the developers can change their mind like Tesco did doesn't sound wise. This is a pretty major potential vulnerability to be hearing about at this late stage. I have only been living in Sittingbourne a short time but am quickly arriving at a similar view about the competance of this council as everyone else i hear from. 
Comment by David on 18 Jul 2014
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