An increased capital budget for a key council scheme has been agreed by councillors.
The amount of extra money Calderdale Council will find is not specified in the publically available briefing papers considered by this week’s full meeting ofCalderdale Council – although this is available to all councillors.
But increasing the £10.6 million budget already approved by the unspecified amount will deliver the Northgate, Halifax, commercial development scheme including office space to “category A” standard and readying the ground floor for commercial units.
Leader of the council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said it would be funded by prudential borrowing – councils are bable to do this at favourable interest rates – over the lifetime of the project, repaid by income raised for the council by the scheme.
Although the proposal was approved Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) raised a note of caution that borrowing was increasing again in a major scheme.
Mayor of Calderdale Coun Dot Foster (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) told councillors the item could be discussed with the public and press present if the amount and other details were not mentioned because they were still commercially sensitive and otherwise it would have to be discussed in a private section of the meeting.
Coun Baker said he was always happy to support the Sixth Form College element of the Northgate site but his party had reservations about creating more retail space, having counted arouynd 50 empty shop units in Halifax centre at a time when high streets were struggling.
He was also concerned about escalating costs of the scheme: “I am asked to consider adding borrowing and costs to that previously agreed and this is the pattern we have seen across a number of projects in the town centre,” he said.
But Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) indicated the site was “very, very viable” but could not say more as negotiations for space were at a sensitive stage.
“There are lots of things to look forward to in Halifax and this is going to be a positive story,” she said.
Coun Swift agreed but added that there were challenges as well. However, he said, “we are very well aware the town centre is changing and this is part of getting that diverse mix of uses which is the future of vibrant town centres.”