Hope work can start on 'long-awaited' £3m Mixenden Hub
Contract tenders are due to close in a few weeks, giving hope a start can be made on site at the £3 million Mixenden Hub in north Halifax in December.
The long-awaited project, which will feature a GP surgery, pharmacy, library, and community garden, has been much delayed with residents and councillors frustrated at the slow process.
But the council’s corporate lead for major projects, Rob Summerfield, told scrutiny councillors it is hoped work on site could start in December.
Mr Summerfield was speaking about challenges capital programme projects can face.
Internal schemes like Mixenden Hub used the authority’s own resources, as opposed to schemes which had external funding, and thus reflected the council’s own priorities.
Even then each project had to draw up a business case setting out parameters within which the council could deliver, he said.
Coun Stpehanie Clarke (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) asked how long a project like Mixenden Hub should take, as it was taking a long time to get off the ground, whereas another major council project, at Northgate, Halifax, albeit partly externally funded, had been completed very quickly.
“But Mixenden hub has gone on for as long as I know and it’s still not started.
“The longer you leave it, the more expensive it becomes, so why does it take so long from origin to final?” she said.
Mr Summerfield said projects the council delivers are substantially different from each other, which can affect how long they take to complete.
A main challenge in the case of Mixenden Hub has been the time it has taken to assemble the land necessary for the project – originally it was all in private ownership.
Coun Clarke said she was unaware it was not council land and asked if councillors ever got to see the business case, and reasons behind things.
Chair of Place Scrutiny Board, which was discussing the authority’s capital programme, Coun Peter Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf), said his understanding was the issue with land purchases, which included the former Jumples pub, was prices being really steep.
The project also involved the NHS and other partners. “It’s not been that simple,” he said.
Mr Summerfield said the land purchases could not be done via compulsory purchase order and had to be completed voluntarily with the different landowners.
One of the biggest final challenges was relocating to the hub a GP surgery and pharmacy, inclusion of which was needed to build the business case.
Design and planning processes took more time, with the biggest problem right now being finding a contractor who could deliver the scheme within budget.
“It is still at the tender process – but hopefully a start on site in early December,” he said.