WEST Berkshire Council is set to sell half of Newbury’s Waterside Centre to a local youth charity for £375,000.
If agreed, the transfer to BBY Waterside Ltd (subsidiary company of Bradfield Berkshire Youth) will allow Berkshire Youth to undertake a much-needed refurbishment of the facility, which was built in the 1960s.
The council acquired the building when Berkshire County Council dissolved in 1998 and currently uses it to provide support to the most vulnerable young people in West Berkshire.
If the transfer goes ahead, the council will retain half the ownership of the centre and its services will remain unaffected, but Berkshire Youth will take over the day-to-day running.
Berkshire Youth would then apply for planning permission and carry out the refurbishment of the centre, with grants from Greenham Trust, among others.
Once the refurbishment works have been carried out, the council and BBY Waterside Ltd will grant Berkshire Youth a 35-year lease for the centre at a peppercorn rent.
On Thursday, December 21, district councillors met to consider the proposal and the council’s executive member for children and young people, Lynne Doherty (Con, Northcroft), explained the benefits.
She said: “It enables us to deliver against our manifesto commitment of 2015, which is to create a new building for the use of all young people of West Berkshire at The Waterside here in Newbury.
“A newly-refurbished centre will provide a much wider universal offer to the young people of Newbury and West Berkshire, while retaining the targeted services that the council currently provides from there.
“This is of benefit to not only the young people of West Berkshire, but in addition the council will receive a capital receipt of £375,000.”
Fellow Conservative and executive member for culture, Dominic Boeck (Thatcham) said he gave his full support to the proposal, as did non-executive member Jeff Beck.
Mr Beck said: “I fully support this proposal. It has been a long time coming and a lot of negotiations and I am sure it will be of great benefit to the youth of Newbury for years to come.”
A report circulated to councillors before the meeting said: “The centre is need of refurbishment, which requires considerable financial investment and costs associated with such a project.
“The proposal ensures that the council is not making contributions towards such costs.
“The council will be granted an under lease of a part of the centre to enable the services currently operated by the council within the centre to be retained.
“It is highly unlikely that the council acting alone could achieve such an outcome without making significant capital and revenue provision – resources that are currently in very short supply.”
“There are a number of property implications which all centre on the future ownership of the centre, the council receiving a capital receipt for relinquishing part interest in the building, and how the centre will be managed going forward.”
Councillors ultimately voted unanimously in favour of entering into and completing the various legal agreements in relation to the future ownership and operation of the Waterside Centre.