Agenda item

Master's House, Sheerness - low carbon refurbishment


The Cabinet Member for Economy and Community introduced the report which sought Cabinet approval to allocate capital funds to the low carbon refurbishment of the Master’s House, Sheerness.  The Cabinet Member outlined the history of the building and said that it was now in a poor state of repair.  Piecemeal remedial work had been carried out, but if the building was to be re-let in the future, there needed to be significant refurbishment.  The Cabinet Member explained that there was £300,000 grant funding available towards the project, and she outlined the works that were proposed.  The Cabinet Member spoke on the final building that would be achieved, with the intention of creating a number of small office spaces, meeting rooms, a function room and studio spaces.  The project would also deliver significant carbon reductions and would enhance the built environment.


A Member welcomed and supported the project and congratulated the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property for the work she had carried out.  He acknowledged the strong heritage value of the building and the support the project would bring to Sheerness.


A visiting Member spoke in support of the refurbishment of Council buildings.  He said that it was important to ensure the project was value-for-money, and that it was a good use of public money.  He said all Members should be given the opportunity to be involved in projects like this and blame should not be apportioned to work not carried out in the past by the administration at the time.  The Member questioned whether spending this amount on the project was a good option, and referred to the Sheerness Dockyard Church site and any impact the work at Master’s House would have on this.  He concluded that he was in support of improvements to Master’s House.


The Deputy Cabinet Member for Economy and Property said a lot of thought had gone into this project, working alongside the Property Team.  She said Master’s House had a lot of potential for the local community.  The building in the future could work alongside the Sheerness Dockyard Church, and she did not consider the Master’s House project was in competition with the Sheerness Dockyard Church.


In the discussion that followed, Members raised the following points:


·         Fully supported this;

·         the project showed that the Council had invested in Sheerness and the Isle of Sheppey;

·         the building had been neglected in the past;

·         this was a good historic building;

·         thanks to the Cabinet and Deputy Cabinet Members and officers for the work they had carried out so far;

·         the High Street and wider community would benefit from this;

·         Master’s House was in a bad state of repair and this was a better option than having housing, and losing the car park, at the site; and

·         a lot of consideration had gone into this project.


The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance reminded Members that funding was provided for the project, with limited borrowing for the Council.  The scheme was part of the Council’s desire to invest in Sheerness.  The Leader outlined the business opportunities that the scheme would allow, including micro-businesses, the opportunity to share knowledge and work sustainably, and the positive contribution to community groups.


The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property explained that there had been much discussion with different parties on the project.  This included talking to the Sheerness Dockyard Trust, and how the project fitted-in with their ethos.  It was hoped that Master’s House could be a follow-up space for young people, after they had trained at the Dockyard Church.  The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property welcomed the investment in Sheerness and the potential for small businesses.




(1)      That the allocation of £1.3m of funding towards the cost of the low carbon refurbishment of Master’s House, Sheerness be approved.


(2)      That the Contract Standing Orders for the award of contract over £100,000 be waived and delegated authority be given to the Head of Property Services and Head of Legal Partnership in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property to enter into the necessary contract(s) to undertake the works, due to the short timescales associated with the grant funding and to ensure that the required completion date of 30 September 2021 could be met.


(3)      That delegated authority be given to the Head of Legal Partnership to negotiate and complete all necessary contracts, leases, deeds and ancillary deeds and documents on the terms agreed by the Head of Property Services as referred to at recommendation (2) above.

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