Exeter City Councillors are being asked to back an increased budget to ensure delivery of a new Exeter Bus Station and state-of-the-art new leisure complex.
The developments, funded by Exeter City Council, are seen as crucial to the overall £115m redevelopment of this key city centre site, in partnership with the Crown Estate.
Members of the authority’s Leisure Complex and Bus Station Programme Board are being recommended to approve an uplift of £7.67m in the previously approved budget for the leisure complex and bus station.
Members of Exeter City Council’s Leisure Complex and Bus Station Programme Board will be asked to consider a number of options for the proposed development, both within and in excess of the current agreed budget of £32.25m.
The recommendation by council officers is to support a revised budget of an extra £7.05m for St Sidwell’s Point and an extra £0.62m for a new Exeter Bus Station.
It takes the total budget for the project to £39.92m.
The contract with a construction company would be at a fixed price, meaning costs would not be allowed to increase.
The announcement follows a best and final offer from contractors hoping to build the new facilities on behalf of the council.
A variety of factors, including the economic uncertainty following the vote to leave the European Union, meant the cost of the developments is more than the original estimate made by the council’s external advisors.
The current agreed budget of £32.25m is already fully funded.
The proposed increase in the budget would mean £6.27m would need to come from borrowing. The cost of borrowing will be more than covered by the expected income that the new Leisure Complex will generate.
Following the Leisure Complex and Bus Station Programme Board on Monday, July 10, the city council’s Executive will meet on Tuesday, July 11, and will be asked to approve the recommendation made. A final decision would then be made at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday, July 19.
The flagship redevelopment would replace the aging Pyramids swimming pool, which would need a considerable amount of money spent on it to bring it up to modern standards.
Exeter’s 50-year-old Exeter Bus Station would also be replaced with much-needed and greatly improved new facilities.
The project is seen as central to the wider redevelopment of the area, in partnership with the Crown Estate.
The private sector developer has planning permission to create a £75m leisure extension of Princesshay, including a mix of new shops, a cinema, restaurants, cafes, public open space and an amphitheatre at the site. It would lead to the creation of 750 new jobs.
If given the go-ahead by councillors, the city council would sign a contract with a building contractor later in the summer, and work could start on St Sidwell’s Point and a new Exeter Bus before the end of the year.
That would mean the closure of the current bus station, and the introduction of the temporary bus arrangements to enable services to continue operating smoothly.
Passengers would be dropped off and picked up at especially created bus stands in the city centre.
The redevelopment of the bus station site has been a top council priority for the last two decades.
It is seen as crucial to supporting and investing in the city centre, where 20,000 people work.
Councillor Phil Bialyk, lead councillor with responsibility for bus station redevelopment, said: “We’ve taken our time to get this right. We said we’d deliver, and even in difficult times we plan to do just that.
“This is about civic pride and setting the right tone for the continued redevelopment of the city centre. It is also about providing the quality buildings and quality services that people expect and deserve.
“The budget to deliver these developments is more than we first thought, but that’s not unusual post the Brexit vote and with the uncertainty over the economy that continues.
“But the project has been independently assessed as being value for money. And we absolutely think the investment in the city will be worth every penny.
“It will help to ensure the long term viability of the city centre, which is responsible for generating a huge number of jobs, and it will provide the residents of Exeter with facilities worthy of our great city for many decades to come.”
The state-of-the-art St Sidwell’s Point leisure complex features an eight lane main pool and four lane pool for learners, both with moveable floors.
There is also a confidence pool, 150 station gym, soft play area, café and crèche as well as extensive health and spa facilities.
Due to ultra-filtration, the pools will have exceptional water quality with minimal chemical content.
It will be the UK’s first leisure centre, built to super-efficient low energy Passivhaus standards, saving around 70 per cent on annual fuel costs.
The new Exeter Bus Station will feature much improved facilities for passengers.
It includes covered waiting and boarding areas and high quality facilities. It will replace the existing bus station which opened in 1964.