Posted: Thu 22nd Sep 2022

Plas Madoc set to be offered century long lease from Wrexham Council for people living in or visiting the wrexham area

Plas Madoc is set for long term security with Wrexham Council’s Executive Board of Wrexham Council likely to back a 99 year lease.

In November 2014, Splash Community Trust was granted a full repairing and insuring lease of Plas Madoc Leisure Centre for 20 years.

However on Tuesday 27 September senior councillors will approve a move to negotiate a 99 year lease “on similar terms and conditions as the existing lease” to replace the current lease that is in place.

A report due before councillors next weeks skips mentioning the centre made a £700k and then £500k loss in the years up to a proposed closure when the council ran it, with a Chief Officer at the time questioning if it would last another 40 years.

It also forgets to mention that in early 2014 the decision was taken to close it and knock the building down.

However there was a huge political fall out and a u-turn later in the year.

Since being overtaken and operated by a trust, the leisure centre has continued to go from strength to strength.

The report does note a “considerable capital programme” to complete the refurbishment of the Centre which will continue to need grant funding is noted, with councillors told the reason for the extra lease term: “All major grant organisations require a minimum of 25 years left on a lease and it is for this reason the tenant seeks a much longer lease, there being only 12 years remaining on the current lease.”

Although some lease information is deemed commercially confidential, the details of the current arrangement is in the public meeting documents: “The initial rent in the existing lease is a nominal £1 with a review rent to be assessed every 5 years to a set formula of an average of 50% of gross income over the previous 5 years for income received from 3rd parties for use of concession areas or for running the premises as a leisure centre such that any review rent would not compromise the profitability or sustainability of the Centre.”

The local authority adds: “There was no review of the rent as at December 2019 and the Council will, in future, ask that the tenant attaches a supplementary document to accompany the audited accounts confirming or otherwise any such concessions.”

There is a slightly damming section of the report that points out that if the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for the building was less than “E” it would not be possible to issue a new lease.

The council itself points out that the “Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) at the start of the lease was at a rating of F – at the point the council handed the reins over to the Trust.”

Thankfully the Trust has upgraded and improved the centre and a reassessment means it is now rated “B” as of April this year.

The report also notes the good work taking place at the centre, which presumably would have ceased if the building had been subject to an alternative fate via previous strong advice from “wise” council officers to not assist with a historic £50k grant.

Value for money is detailed as: “The Council’s Health & Development team has confirmed that the Free Swim programme is being delivered at Plas Madoc to offer free sessions in areas of deprivation, offering a variety of sessions including family fun swim, after school lessons, free for primary school children in the area who need extra support to pass school swimming criteria and cannot afford to join a private learn to swim programme.

“In addition, there are disability family fun sessions and disability swim lessons to improve and integrate into main lessons to swim programme, under 16s free swim, over 60s free swim and inclusive day for children on the Activ8-16 programme during holiday times.

“The National Exercise on Referral Scheme (NERS) is also delivered at Plas Madoc Leisure Centre. It is a programme of exercise offered to individuals that have been referred by their GP or other health care professional for medical reasons or are at risk of developing a chronic condition.

“The exercise scheme is delivered and led by specifically trained exercise professionals and funded by Public Health Wales for the sole reason of delivering exercise programmes for these clients across Wales.

“Plas Madoc is a key area local to where many of the referral clients live and gym sessions, exercise classes and water based activities are offered at a suitable level.

“As a result of running the NERS scheme at Plas Madoc up to 200 referred individuals per year have accessed exercise programmes at the facility, which has helped to remove barriers for people in the local community and surrounding area to access physical activity programmes, barriers such as cost, travel, specialist advice, reduced motivation and anxiety.”

As usual the report notes “risks” for any such lease move, with Wrexham Council officers ironically explaining the risk is…  “the existing facility is not maintained and improved”.

The report will be considered by members of Wrexham Council at an executive board meeting on Tuesday 27 September.


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