Swimming Pool v Theatre for Exeter

I’ve been challenged by a resident on my views on Swimming  Pool v Theatre.

And I can only guess that by theatre, they mean a large city centre theatre to rival the Plymouth Theatre Royal, as Exeter DOES have both theatre venues and theatre companies, offering a wide range of exciting theatre and other entertainment – quite often serving up productions not seen this side of Bristol.

Exeter Corn Exchange (Capacity = 500)

*Exeter Northcott (Capacity = 460)

Barnfield Theatre (Capacity = 287)

*Exeter Phoenix (Capacity = Seated 216; Standing 450)

Cygnet Theatre (Capacity = 100)

*Bike Shed Theatre (Capacity = 80)

And in addition, there are theatre companies that produce their own work, and tour nationally and internationally:
*Theatre Alibi 

Le Navet Bete

And of course there is a relatively new an organisation based in Exeter which brings people together to design, promote and produce extraordinary live experiences.
*Kaleider

Each of the organisations marked with an * is recognised by Art Council England to be of such benefit to overall arts offer  of the area and the UK that they are designated as a National Portfolio Organisation [NPO] as they play a vital role in helping ACE meet its mission of great art and culture for everyone. Each NPO receives a commitment of 3 year funding for their activities

As a professional theatre sound designer, I would love to be able to deliver a 1200 seater theatre capable of presenting large scale touring shows – but  such a theatre is likely to cost somewhere in excess of £47m to build and the city council would have to pay around £350k each year to a commercial operation to run the venue.

I can say this with some confidence as that’s what happens at the most recent civic theatre to be built in the UK – the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury.

Just to be clear, I am not dismissing such a proposal out of hand – what I cannot support is a theatre that requires significant subsidy to operation. If a private enterprise came forward, I am sure that a compromise could be found. But there are no such propositions coming forward – either here in Exeter, or elsewhere around the country.

However, there is a case for a for a multi-purpose entertainment venue, which will need to be at least revenue neutral, if not income generating.

I am currently hopeful that the Theatre for Exeter Development Group will soon be commissioning an options appraisal  to  examine the feasibility of just such a venue as I know Cllr Rosie Denham, as the Portfolio Holder covering arts and culture, has helped them develop the brief for a consultant.

Although no site in the city centre has been identified, there are some obvious options that could become available in the next 5 years.

As to the Leisure Complex – there is a robust business case that shows that the facility will be generating a significant income for the city council at a time when national government is reducing central funding to local authorities and expecting them to be financially self-sufficient by the time the Revenue Support Grant is removed from councils by 2020/21.

Thus, the Leisure Complex will in time allow us to continue to work for the good of the city and its residents,  and – if a the options appraisal can give a viable case for a cost neutral/income generating venue – help finance that venue in the future.

I hope that helps clarify my position.

ECC | Information about the business case for Exeter’s new leisure complex

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Information about the business case for Exeter’s new leisure complex

This factsheet is intended to provide high level information concerning the business case for the Exeter Active Leisure Centre Project.
exeter leisure 1_Retail Street West_Press issue
Why do we need a new leisure complex?
Having opened in the 1940s, Exeter’s Pyramids pool has reached the end of its lifetime. It has become very costly to run and needs substantial multi-million pound investment just to consolidate its continued operation before any improvements can be made to enhance the user experience. The physical constraints of the Pyramids building and site mean there is no scope for extension to offer more facilities.
What is the project cost summary?
The council has a total budget of £26 million for the leisure complex.
This figure covers all building work costs, including statutory and professional fees, costs
associated with the acquisition of the site and the cost of procuring a leisure operator.
We are unable to release specific figures at the present time, as they are commercially sensitive and may prejudice the tendering process.
How does this cost compare to other leisure centres of the same standard?
Sport England have confirmed that the base building cost for the leisure complex compares favourably to similar facilities across the UK.
The cost equates to £3,333/m2, which is in keeping with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors BCIS (Building Cost Information Service) rates of between £2,750/m2 to £3,350/m2 for other leisure schemes which reflects the high quality construction required forpassivhaus and the city centre location.
As the design progresses through the ‘detailed design’ and ‘technical design’ stages, the Quantity Surveyor will continue to work closely with the design team to manage and control successful delivery within the project budget.
What is the phasing of this expenditure over the development period?
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What is the estimated revenue income for the council?
The leisure complex is expected to deliver a trading surplus in every year of its operational life, with a share being returned to the council through a profit share agreement with the leisure operator.
We expect overall income (not just expected revenue) after the first full year of trading to be somewhere in the region of £1.7m to £2m.
More detailed information on revenue will not be released until a leisure operator has been procured. To release the information before the tendering process would impact on the council’s commercial interests. However, in the long term the development will pay for itself and offer a long-term source of income to the council.
This income will be re-invested in facilities and services around the city.
How is the development being funded?
The funding is being sourced from money received via the New Homes Bonus and Community Infrastructure levy.
The council has passed a resolution that the underlying need to borrow will not increase as a result of the leisure complex. Therefore long term borrowing costs will not be incurred.
What assumptions have been made when costing the project?
Costs current at Q3 2015.
Anticipated form of contract is JCT.
Anticipated procurement route is Design & Build, with design up to RIBA Stage E / New Plan 5.
Start on site date Q1 2017.
All works to be in normal working hours other than those specifically mentioned.
Total vacant possession at start on site.
Any excavated material which will need to be removed will be categorisedas ‘inert’ beyond allowance.
Ground conditions will be suitable with no significant cut and fill exerciserequired beyond allowance.
The services to the site do not require reinforcement.
Demolition and asbestos removal from the bus station will be undertaken outside of this project.
Building to be constructed to high quality due to city centre location.
External works to consist of only those shown in the site area, no allowance beyond this.
Costs arising from decontamination of site and removal and disposal of contaminated materials/debris beyond allowance.
A dig and dump remediation method for oil, oil filters and brake fluids from vehicles and machines to site area only. The exact volume is unknown, the allowance includes for a disposal volume of approximately 4,000m3. The allowance could vary considerably based upon timeframe for remediation, depth and distribution of contamination, patterns of surface drainage,location of existing on- site services, depth of necessary foundations and below-ground services. (A contingency sum has been set aside to mitigate such eventualities)
BREEAM Excellent energy criteria requirements only.
The commercial retail space will be constructed outside of this project.
Costs for all surveys required have been included within the Design Team Fee.
Have you undertaken a risk assessment in relation to funding?

In respect of the risk assessment, the council has already set aside £7.9m from New Homes Bonus (with the remainder coming from CIL income). Short term borrowing to cover any timing differences will be undertaken (current cost 0.65% per annum, expected torise to 1.75% by 2018). Provision for the repayment of debt is 2% for a long term asset. The cashflow has been mapped to the timings of receipts and on current projections is not significantly different.

What is the life cycle costing?
At the initial feasibility and options evaluation stage of the project, full 25 year life cycle costing models were developed to consider ongoing running and maintenance costs of the facility. This exercise identified that the selected use of Passivhaus as a build standard would reduce energy consumption by circa 70% per annum. In addition the forecast total spend on plant repair / replacement would be reduced over the 25 year period due to the specification of higher quality products and the improved internal environment reducing normal deterioration and repair requirements.
How will you mitigate against future climate changes?
Exeter University as appointed Climate Change Consultants for the development have assisted the design team in ensuring that the new facility is specifically designed to mitigate future climate changes in the Region up to 2080. This work has influenced the design and specification of the building ensuring it does not overheat in future years, that surface water drainage from the building can drain sufficiently  even in peak flash flood conditions and there is sufficient solar shading. The retrofit of climate mitigation measures can be substantial, for a conventional built building (not
Passivhaus), research undertaken by the Technology Strategy Board on similar projects shows these costs could easily exceed £750,000 over the first 50 year lifetime of the building.
What procurement process have you gone through?
To date, the procurement and appointment of the Professional Team has been competitively tendered via full OJEU compliant procurement procedures. The appointment of the main building contractor will be competitive, in a manner fully compliant with the 2015 Public Contracts Regulations.
Where can I find more information about the leisure complex?