Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
Cabinet considered a report outlining proposals for the acquisition of land at Tonge Meadow, Middleton. The acquisition would be on the basis of an exchange for the funding of improvements to adjacent playing pitches at Middleton Technology School.
The report also detailed options for the marketing and sale of land at Tonge Meadow and William Street for residential development, to support the repair and restoration of Tonge Hall.
There is no “do nothing” option, the Council is currently doing a minimum amount of work to protect the historic asset from vandalism and weather damage, with capital and revenue costs.
There is a significant conservation deficit related to the repair and restoration of the hall, meaning that any scheme to repair and restore the hall would require significant subsidy or grant support.
Grants from organisations such as Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England have been considered as part of the feasibility for this project, these are likely to be limited and would require match funding.
The following was APPROVED
The acquisition of land identified as plots 4, 5 and 6 on the plan attached to the report, in exchange for works to playing fields at Middleton Technology School and any future capital receipt in relation to plot 5.
Marketing and disposal of plots 1, 2, 3 and 4 (identified in the report) for residential development, with the acceptance of sale delegated to the Director of Economy in Consultation with the Cabinet Member for Planning, Development and Housing.
That the balance of the capital receipt, following the completion of the playing pitch works, be ring-fenced for the repair and restoration of Tonge Hall.
A capital virement to resolve potential timing issue as detailed in 5.3 of the report.
That decisions around opting to tax the land identified in this report be delegated to the Chief Finance Officer.
That the Assistant Director of Legal, Governance & Workforce be authorised to advise appropriate Council Services, prepare the appropriate legal documents and execute such documents on behalf of the Council in connection with the acquisition and disposal of these plots.
Reasons for Decision
Tonge Hall is a Grade II* Manorial Hall in the ownership of Rochdale Borough Council. The hall is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.
The hall suffered a catastrophic fire in 2007, whilst in private ownership, the Council has secured the site and protected it from vandalism and weather damage for more than ten years, with the ultimate aim of repair and restoration of the hall.
Feasibility work has established that the conservation deficit associated with the hall can be met through the sale of land largely in Council ownership close to the hall, without damaging the historic setting of the hall.
There is a requirement to acquire land from Middleton Technology School to facilitate access, increase the developable area of land and increase the value of the Council’s land holdings.
The project will also facilitate the improvement of playing pitches and creation of new employment land with associated benefits to the local community and wider Middleton Township.
Opting to tax the relevant land and buildings may be necessary to ensure RBC remains below its 5% partial exemption limit for VAT (as the cost of breaking the exemption limit would be estimated at around £1m per annum).
The acquisition of land from Middleton Technology School will be structured to ensure that the deal is not considered a barter transaction for the avoidance of VAT or Stamp Duty.
Report author: Nick Barton
Publication date: 26/02/2020
Date of decision: 30/07/2019
Decided at meeting: 30/07/2019 - Cabinet