The council hasn’t figured out yet what will happen to the 330-space Theatre Multi-Storey Car Park, off Marlborough Gate, but is keen to get the loss-making building off its books.
“The only time it has ever been well used has been when it has been free,” said a report to Cllr Lauren Townsend (Lab, Bletchley West), who is the council’s cabinet member for community safety.
“Even a 15p per hour tariff did not encourage more users.”
The report sponsored by the council’s head of property and facilities, Bee Lewis, says the building needs a £100,000 lift replacement, a new £30,000 payment system, and new emergency lighting at £7,000.
Closed since the first lockdown in March, council officers say the nearby new John Lewis car par has proven more attractive even for theatre users.
A decision due to be made by Cllr Townsend next week (Tuesday, November 17) will mean three currently furloughed people working for contractors Saba being made redundant at a cost of £26,800. Although the report author says they may be redeployed.
Originally built, paid for, and operated by the theatre, its ownership was transferred to the council and made available for the public.
Before is was closed in the lockdown, it cost £1.60 to park there for four hours but fewer than 30 spaces were used at a time, according to council officers.
The council has asked the theatre if it wants to take it back but the report says “they are not interested.”
And the report adds that the theatre has no objections to the car park being closed and “given its unpopularity, it is unlikely the general public will have
There’s no definitive answer to questions about the future of the site, which is covered by a restrictive covenant from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) preventing any use other than a car park.
“In practice, the HCA may be willing to lift or vary the restrictive covenant; but would likely require a red book valuation and payment,” the report adds.