£10m loan to fund town regeneration
Council borrowing is labelled ‘madness’ Hotel bid scrapped at private meeting 29 apartments and luxury spa move approved
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