£10m loan to fund town re­gen­er­a­tion

Coun­cil bor­row­ing is la­belled ‘mad­ness’ Ho­tel bid scrapped at pri­vate meet­ing 29 apart­ments and lux­ury spa move ap­proved

Rossendale Free Press - - Front Page - STU­ART PIKE stu­[email protected]­media.co.uk @stu­art­pike78

COUN­CIL­LORS have rub­ber­stamped bor­row­ing of more than £10 mil­lion to fi­nance the next stage of Rawten­stall’s re­gen­er­a­tion – but have shelved plans for a flag­ship ho­tel.

Rec­om­men­da­tions to press on with the Spin­ning Point de­vel­op­ment – the big­gest in­vest­ment project in Rossendale coun­cil’s his­tory – have been backed by full coun­cil. The de­bate was con­ducted with press and pub­lic ex­cluded af­ter it was deemed con­fi­den­tial – al­though the Free Press has seen agenda back­ground papers.

The £9.4m pre­ferred scheme for ‘ Phase 2’ of Spin­ning Point com­prises a lux­ury Spa plus, 29 one and two-bed­room apart­ments and seven re­tail/ food and drink units.

It will be fi­nanced by Pub­lic Works Loan Board (PWLB) bor­row­ing of £7.8m over three years, £1.8m for 30 years and £1m for 25 years.

Coun­cil leader Alyson Barnes has de­fended the loans – la­belled ‘crazy’ by one op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lor – and also the de­ci­sion to plough pro­ceeds from the for­mer Rosso bus de­pot sale into the scheme.

Ear­lier this year we re­ported that the sale to Trans­dev would re­coup £3.7m, while the coun­cil is al­low­ing for a quick re­turn of £4m on res­i­den­tial el­e­ments of Spin­ning Point.

Coun Barnes told the Free Press the ap­proved scheme was de­vised fol­low­ing months of de­lib­er­a­tions from a cross-party work­ing group, and in­sisted long-term bor­row­ing would ef­fec­tively come in at un­der £3m.

She said: “Part of that bor­row­ing is just for three years be­cause we have gone for the res­i­den­tial op­tion. Once the units have been filled, the money comes back into the scheme.

“Al­to­gether the longer term bor­row­ing is un­der £3 mil­lion and ex­pected in­come is some­where in the re­gion of £300,000 a year.

“I very much ap­pre­ci­ated the work­ing group’s work on this.”

In July, Coun Barnes told us that they were in talks with an ‘in­stantly recog­nis­able’ ho­tel chain to bring an 80-bed­room ho­tel and res­tau­rant to the town as part of a bid to boost tourism.

Ex­plain­ing why they have now opted against it, she said: “A ho­tel would be too risky in the cur­rent cli­mate. There­fore, the work­ing group unan­i­mously agreed not to pur­sue that op­tion at this time but in­stead go for a res­i­den­tial of­fer.”

She added that se­cur­ing more overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion for the bor­ough re­mains a long-term ob­jec­tive.

The amended and ‘en­hanced’ de­sign for Phase Two of the Spin­ning Point Project

Coun Alyson Barnes

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