Hampshire County Council

Buildings Land and Contracts Panel Item 11

27 January 2004

Executive Member - Policy and Resources

19 February 2004

Gosport Discovery Centre

Report by the Director of Property, Business and Regulatory Services

Contact: Steve Clow Ext: 7858 email:steve.clow@hants.gov.uk

How the conclusion in this report fits with the Corporate Strategy

The scheme to provide a Discovery Centre in Gosport will impact on the delivery of all Corporate Aims, focusing most immediately on:

    Aim 1 - maximising life opportunities: the proposal to provide a new Discovery Centre will have an immediate benefit for the local community.

    Aim 5 - improving services: all users of the proposed new facilities will benefit from these proposals.

1

Summary

1.1

Members will be aware of the proposals to develop Discovery Centres in Hampshire and following approval from the Cabinet an allocation of £4.8m, over the four years 2003/04 to 2006/07, has been added to the Recreation and Heritage Capital Programme to support the development of Discovery Centres. Of this amount £2m has been allocated for the proposed new Gosport Discovery Centre, with £1m allocated in 2003/04 and a further £1m available in the 2004/05 Capital Programme.

1.2

The Director of Recreation and Heritage and the Director of Property Business and Regulatory Services have concluded that the existing Gosport Library building be remodelled and refurbished to provide a new Discovery Centre. The existing Library is located in the High Street of Gosport. The area is pedestrianised and is the shopping and administrative centre of Gosport. The area has good public transport links, direct access from the High Street and public car parks located within easy walking distance of the building. The building offers flexibility of space, however, the current internal layout is impractical and would benefit from reorganisation.

1.3

Along with the creation of a new Discovery Centre it is proposed to provide a Local Studies Centre in part of the existing Gosport Museum which is located near to the Library on the other side of Gosport High Street. This refurbishment work will be undertaken as part of the overall major scheme.

1.4

A design solution for the existing library and museum buildings has been agreed and the purpose of this report is to outline the design proposals and seek approval to the attached building design project appraisal, at an estimated cost of £1,791,000, excluding fees. The County Council is carrying out a programme of consultation giving people the chance to comment on the services to be included in the Discovery Centre. Stakeholder and community groups, ranging from learning and youth groups to local commerce organisations, have already been consulted. Gosport residents will be able to find out more about the proposals and have the opportunity to air their views at a public forum at Gosport library on 12 February 2004. Following the forum, a postal survey will be sent to a representative sample of Gosport households, giving both users and non-users of the library a chance to express their opinions. The proposed floor plan is flexible and comments from the public consultation will be taken into account when designing the services to be delivered from the Discovery Centre.

2.

Scope of the Works

2.1

It is proposed to undertake complete internal reorganisation and refurbishment of the existing building to provide a totally accessible Discovery Centre to serve the town of Gosport. The accommodation is spread over three floors (including a mezzanine floor) and refurbishment of the existing lift will enable access to all areas of the building.

2.2

A new glazed entrance will be constructed in place of the existing entrance of the building which will lead visitors to a welcoming open foyer area with seating and art displays. Under the proposed plans the ground floor provides a café, `youth zone', retail area, book stack and Accessible WC. The first and mezzanine floor offers a children's zone, further book stacks, IT Suite, museum exhibition area, male and female WCs. The second floor accommodates the reference library along with meeting rooms and an area for a Naval collection. All of these floors will offer People's Network areas (for access to the Internet), reading and seating areas, information / help points and self issue points. The third floor of the building is mainly dedicated for staff use and will provide a manager's office, staff room, meeting rooms, studio / work rooms and a further accessible WC. Full details of the proposed new accommodation can be found in the attached design project appraisal.

2.3

Other works to be undertaken as part of this scheme will be to upgrade the mechanical and electrical services for the building. This will include the provision of a new electrical system to include new lighting and IT cabling throughout, along with a new extraction ventilation system to improve the ventilation in the building.

2.4

It is proposed that part of the ground floor of the existing Gosport Museum building should be refurbished to provide a Local Studies Centre. The Centre would accommodate local studies maps, books and reference material that is currently kept in the library, which will enable the Naval Collection to be housed in the new Discovery Centre. The Studies Centre could offer reading and seating areas, People's Network area, IT workstations and geology display areas. A new accessible WC will be created and new power assisted doors will be installed at the main entrance.

3.

Procurement

3.1

At the November 2003 meeting of the Executive Member Policy and Resources approval was made to the procurement of this project with Mansell Construction through the Framework Agreement for major projects. Mansell Construction have successfully undertaken similar refurbishment schemes for the County Council, including a major fast-track refurbishment project at Warblington Secondary School and have established good working relationships and an expertise for this type of work. It is therefore intended to procure this scheme with Mansell Construction.

4.

Funding and Timing

4.1

An allocation of £862,000, excluding fees has been made from the Recreation and Heritage's 2003/04 Capital Programme along with a further allocation of the same amount from the 2004/05 Capital Programme. This provides a total of £1,724,000, excluding fees, for the complete scheme. It should be noted that the current cost estimate for these proposals is £1,791,000, excluding fees, which is £67,000 above the funding available. Work is currently underway to reduce this figure and a savings strategy will be implemented during the negotiation of the contract with the contractor and a contract will be let when the costs and funding are reconciled.

4.2

In order to provide a continued library service for Gosport it is intended to site three temporary buildings in the car park of Gosport Museum to accommodate part of the existing library for the duration of the proposed works. A planning application for this course of action has been submitted to the Director of Environment along with the planning application for the main library refurbishment scheme. Once the temporary buildings are in place it is intended to decant from the Gosport Library so that the refurbishment work can commence during March 2004. The contract will continue until December 2004, following which, the library will be fitted out with new furniture and equipment. The existing Gosport Museum is a Listed building and will require a separate planning application for the proposed refurbishment work. This planning application will be submitted early in the new year and work at the Museum, to create the new Local Studies Centre, will be completed later in 2004.

5.

Consultation with Local Member

5.1

Councillor M Geddes, local Member for this area, has been consulted on this project appraisal and has no comments.

Recommendation

That the Buildings Land and Contracts Panel advises the Executive Member for Policy and Resources that the design project appraisal be approved.

Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers

The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.

NB the list excludes:

1 Published works

2 Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.