THE POTENTIAL purchase of retail space in Haverfordwest will be examined further following a call-in of the decision to appoint consultants.
Cllr Paul Miller, cabinet member for economy, tourism, leisure and culture, had made delegated decision to allow for the appointment of a consultant to develop and evaluate proposals for the redevelopment of Haverfordwest’s Riverside Shopping Centre.
This would include buying the three hectare site as part of the next phase of the town’s regeneration.
Cllrs Jamie Adams, David Pugh, Brian Hall and Di Clements, requested that the decision be called-in – because of concerns about the council’s budget position – at an extraordinary services overview and scrutiny committee on May 14.
Cllr Adams said that Cllr Miller’s decision was a significant one and a “significant step change in terms of the aspiration of the council.”
“It’s a big ask, it’s an awful lot of money if the authority was to go ahead and purchase the riverside retail area,” he added, raising concerns about the impact on revenue budgets and council tax money.
Finance cabinet member Cllr Bob Kilmister said the proposal was a capital project and money was “not coming from council tax.”
The consultants would be tasked with examining the area to provide more information and evidence to enable a decision to develop the area or not, he added.
“We are not in a position to make a decision on going ahead on this because we don’t have the information. We can do the work outlined by Paul [Miller] and at the end there’s still a question mark about it happening, but it’s based on facts,” he added.
Cllr Miller added that a business case stage was a “detailed, robust and rigorous process” and the consultants would appointed to ensure the information is available before making a decision.
Cllr David Pugh said there would also be need to consider investment in Bridge Street and High Street.
“The shrinking of retail is happening, there’s no doubt about it, there’s got to be a mix of retail, housing and leisure,” he added.
A previous report states that the estimated costs of the consultant work would be around £120,000 including costs for a project lead, architects, structural engineers and building services.
Following discussions the committee agreed to support Cllr Miller’s decision to give the council’s head of infrastructure the power to appoint the consultants.