Councillors have approved the business plan for the new Reach for Health premises in Daventry ahead of a likely planning decision later this month.
Daventry District Council agreed to fully fund the proposed new £1.5million premises for the charity last year, and its strategy group met on Thursday evening to discuss the latest on the scheme.
Councillors on the group agreed to approve the business plan, which as it was confidential, was not able to be viewed by members of the public and press.
Presenting his report to the group, Councillor David James said: “It’s a great benefit to the district as a whole, and the intention is that we should fully fund it.
“There are a number of risks involved in this though, as it has not received planning permission yet, although this should be heard later this month.”
Reach for Health currently operates out of commercial property leased from the council in the Marches Industrial Estate. It offers physical and mental rehabilitation for people who have suffered a major health trauma or are living with long term or life long illness.
But the group has outgrown its premises, and in September it applied for planning permission for new premises on an unused area of the Daventry & District Sports Trust site at Western Avenue.
Councillors went against their own officer’s advice in December to agree to set aside the capital monies to fully fund the new premises. Officers had previously raised ‘financial concerns’ about the scheme, and said that adding the project to the capital programme was ‘likely to put the council in a borrowing position’.
The council wanted to fund the new premises, as well as the new cinema project in Mulberry Place, in the limited window of time the authority has left before it is abolished to make way for a new unitary authority.
The authority is also forgoing £89,500 per year for the rental period of 29 years, equating to around £2.6 million over the life of the lease.
In papers seen by councillors, officer Mark George writes: “Given the potentially very tight timescales for this decision to be implemented, officers commenced work as soon as possible on preparing the necessary information, including that to support a Business Plan for Council consideration.
“Appended to this report is that business plan. This is confidential because of the information it contains. Because of the very tight timescales, the business plan does not contain as full information as would normally be provided at this approval stage, but it is considered that, overall, there is sufficient information to enable members to make sufficiently informed decisions about the project.”
The only details made public from the business plan was the type of building which would be delivered, which councillors agreed would be a modular [prefabricated] one.
The planning committee of Daventry District Council next meets on February 20, and if granted permission, a contractor and final cost would be finalised next month, with building work set to start in July for a finishing date of December.