Maesteg Town Hall project moving ahead, but funding not secured

(Pic: Bridgend Council)

Towards the end of 2017, there were rumours the controversial redevelopment of Maesteg Town Hall (with subsequent closure of the indoor market) into a new library and cultural centre was either scrapped or in serious difficulty.

An update provided to BCBC’s Cabinet and full council this week (pdf) paints a clearer picture and suggests that while the project is still on the table, there are problems to overcome.

Here are the main points from the update:

The Project Itself

  • There’s still no detailed business case, but design work is progressing and the plans for the building – as they were at the time – are still on the table. The building will require “significant repair and restoration”.
  • All bar one of the indoor market tenants have reportedly taken up alternative accommodation in the outdoor market. The final trader has an open offer for an outdoor market unit when their lease expires in April 2018.
  • If funding is secured, work could start in January 2020 with an expectation it would take 16 months to complete.

Funding

  • The current estimated cost of the project is ~£5.5million – much higher than the original estimate of £4-5million.
  • The breakdown of funding sources – combined revenue and capital – is as follows: BCBC (£1.5million), Awen Cultural Trust (£500k), Heritage Lottery Fund (£605k), Welsh Government and EU match-funding (£2.9million).
  • A bid for Welsh Government/EU funding is due to be submitted in March or April.
  • A bid for Heritage Lottery Fund money has had to be re-submitted following a rejection last year. The full amount may not be available until Autumn 2018 depending on the success of the bid.
  • Awen Cultural Trust’s contribution is expected to come from charitable donations and external grants so isn’t 100% guaranteed.
  • £800,000 of BCBC’s commitment is dependent on selling the Ewenny Road site for development; the sale hasn’t happened yet and will need to happen by May 2019 – something officers say is “unachievable”.
  • Ewenny Road was originally bought with a Welsh Government grant and the Welsh Government have supposedly confirmed they “would not wish to claw-back the original grant value”.

Officers have recommended the Cabinet and Council approve the new financial plan, but there are so many ifs, whens and buts this project may become either too complicated to deliver or result in BCBC stumping up more of their own cash than first anticipated.

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