Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Corn Exchange - again

In response to those concerned about the planning application for a 'drinking establishment', here is the SEBC press release, which I hope puts the application in perspective. It seems there is a due process to follow.

I have however already submitted a response to the planning department, pointing out the need for councillors on the Development Control committee to consider this not just as a change of use (which might need further permissions/licence applications) but as the trigger to allowing the change to happen without further consultation.

After making some enquiries I found out that there was already a borough licence which could be transferred, and would only need to be consulted on if there were internal alterations. Although I think that is almost certain, it seems to me that technically an approval for this initial change of use application could in theory create the large pub which so many people are concerned about. I believe this makes the current application of greater importance than it otherwise might be.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is looking for a tenant for an important historic building in Bury St Edmunds.

Cllr Nigel Aitkens, Cabinet member for Asset Management said,

“This year we will be opening the new Apex public venue in the arc development in Bury St Edmunds and as the first floor of the Grade II listed Corn Exchange will no longer be needed as a public hall, we are looking for a tenant.”

The length of lease could be any period between 10 and 30 years from the beginning of September 2010 onwards. While the council has applied for change of use to drinking establishment it is interested in offers for any appropriate use which would also meet the planning requirements. Interested parties are encouraged to speak to the council's planning department prior to making offers, if they envisage making alterations.

Cllr Aitkens continued,

“No decisions have been reached on the nature of the new use for the building, (although the council has to consider its duty to achieve best value for the local taxpayer), and we will be considering community management as well as commercial uses. We are inviting offers either on the basis of annual rent or as a price with an element of well being”.

Price bids will be assessed on a conventional highest bid basis. The wellbeing element of a 'wellbeing and price' bid will be scored against five criteria including factors like community benefits, the number of users and benefits to users and sustainability. Bids must include sufficient information on all assessment criteria otherwise they will be rejected.

· A full prospectus is available at
· Offers should be made by no later than noon on Wednesday 7 April 2010
· The criteria for well being elements are

Criteria A: Deliverability and sustainability. The proposal must:
be capable of being delivered and sustained without financial assistance from the council;
be supported by an effective business plan which demonstrates the deliverability and sustainability of the proposal;
include within that business plan details and evidence of provision for set-up costs and ongoing revenue sustainability;
be supported by an effective risk assessment and proposals to mitigate risk; and
have robust and effective management and governance arrangements in place.

Criteria B: Community benefits: The proposer must provide details of the community benefits that the wellbeing and price bid will achieve. The benefits should be clearly set out and detail the benefits in terms of the uniqueness of the proposal, what social, economic and environmental community needs are being addressed and what gaps in existing community provision are being filled. This should exclude the number of service users/beneficiaries which is the subject of the next criteria.

Criteria C: Number of users/benefits to users: The proposer must provide estimated details of numbers of users or direct beneficiaries of the proposal. These should, where appropriate, be supported by market testing or other user data. The robustness of the data provided will be considered in the assessment of these criteria. In the event of the proposal being similar to a service for which the council has user data and/or market experience or service need the council will, in its assessment of the bid, compare the data provided by the tenderer with any existing data. In order that proposals involving low numbers of users are not unfairly disadvantaged by this criterion, the council will also consider in its scoring the measurable benefit for individuals, if appropriate. Again, the robustness of the evidence will be the critical factor.

Criteria D: Additional inward investment: The proposer must provide details of any inward investment in third party funding that the proposal will attract. This may be capital investment or ongoing revenue support.

Criteria E: Contribution to the council's priorities: The proposer must set out how the wellbeing and price bid supports the council's priorities as set out in its
Corporate Plan 2009-2010. Criteria E will be assessed from the level of its contribution to all sections of each of the priorities.

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