Agenda item

Glassworks - Update


The Committee will receive an update on the current situation and progress being made in relation to the Glassworks project.


The Committee received a presentation from Mr D Shepherd, Service Director (Regeneration and Culture), updating the Committee on the current situation and progress being made in relation to the Glassworks Project.


(a)  Construction Impact

·         Activity began to slow down on site from mid March and on the 27th March, 2020 Henry Boot Construction decided to temporarily close the site due to:

o   Sub-Contractors closing

o   Operatives from outside the region being unable to find accommodation

o   Supply issues

o   Difficulties in adhering to the 2m socially distancing rule


(b)  Construction Recovery

·         Henry Boot Construction had been exemplary throughout the process and had recommend a phased return from the 6th April, 2020 in line with Government Guidance.  In order to do this, they had:

o   Introduced social distancing measured for both vehicles and pedestrians

o   Introduced a signed and lined one-way system around the site

o   Transformed a part of the completed block into a welfare facility in order to eat and maintain social distancing

o   Introduced additional cleaning staff via Norse

o   Introduced additional storage for materials in the basement

o   Completed, in the last month, the acquisition of the Eastern Gateway for storage (which could also be used for welfare services as well should they wish)


(c)  Impact on the Programme

·         The current projection was that the construction was 6 weeks behind that originally anticipated

·         Turner and Townsend had done some early modelling of the impact of the closure based on the initial 4 weeks delay and then at 3 months working at 50% capacity.  The projected opening time was now anticipated to be Autumn 2021 but there was an ongoing review of programme dates

·         There was a need to discuss with agreed tenants the impact in terms of construction.  Henry Boot were, however, working at approximately 70-75% productivity (compared to pre Covid 19) so it was hoped that there would be a reduced impact on the timescales for programme


(d)  Impact on Leasing

·         Positively, pre Covid 19 deals were still progressing, however, there was likely to be an initial impact on the wider retail and leisure market.  The Council was hoping, however, to be in position to announce further occupiers in the weeks ahead

·         The current focus of operators was to protect existing businesses and reopen as soon as possible, hopefully by the 15th June, 2020

·         The Council was to undertake a review of the leasing strategy.  Leases would be reviewed in the coming months and there was a need to understand the impact of any delay on projected dates offered to tenants for their fit out.  Positive discussions were progressing with tenants about the opening and the commitment to the Project.  A report would be submitted to the September meeting


(e)  Progress

·         A drone footage video would be made available for members showing the current progress on the scheme


In the ensuing discussion the following matters were highlighted:


·         As previously reported, there would be no additional costs to the Council due to any delay in completion of the project because of the Covid 19 pandemic

·         Reference was made to the valuation of land and buildings and to the fact that this would carried at cost because the project was under construction.  Once completed the buildings (including various public realm works) would be brought into the accounts and valued appropriately once operational.  Further details could be provided particularly in relation to those parts of the project that were currently in use.  The External Auditor commented that the valuation of land and buildings was a key area of focus for their audit and would be referenced in his report later in the meeting.  He reported also that he had met the Service Director Finance and members of his Team on a number of occasions at which such matters had been discussed

·         Reference was made to the Authority’s Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Impact Assessment and on how this would be applied to this project.  The Service Director (Regeneration and Culture) briefly outlined how this had been developed and provided details of its main elements.  Given that the leisure and hospitality sector was a leading component of any economic upturn, it was important that this sector be given as much support as possible.  This was then cross referenced to the Barnsley Economic Recovery Plan.  A copy would be made available to all Members

·         There was a discussion of the shortfall of yield against costs which was around £2m comprising an £8m annual cost and a £6m annual rental yield.  No risks against the construction costs were envisaged

·         No businesses or tenancy commitments had been lost within the Glassworks as a result of the Covid pandemic.  A number of national businesses had gone out of business recently and this did have an impact as fewer businesses were looking for spaces in new schemes.  However, a change was being seen in the types of businesses coming forward and over recent months and weeks there had been a resurgence in the number of local operators who were interested in taking up space



RESOLVED that David Shepherd be thanked for his most informative and thought provoking presentation.