Proposed venue: The Elgar Room - Bishop Auckland Town Hall. View directions
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Bishop Paul Butler, Jonathan Ruffer and Katy Severs.
Declarations of Interest
David Land declared an interest as Chair of the Manufacturing Engineering Network which had been referred to in the Springboard to Employment Business Case.
Rob Yorke declared an interest as Chair of South Durham Enterprise Agency in the proposals for the Springboard to Employment project. The SDEA had a project in the town centre which had the potential to be in commercial competition with the Springboard to Employment.
Natalie Davison-Terranova declared an interest in the Springboard to Employment Project. The Board member was employed by Bishop Auckland College which was a delivery partner in the initiative.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2022 and the Special meeting held on 18 July 2022 were agreed as a correct record.
Matters Arising from the Minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2022
Variable Message Signage
David Land asked for an update in respect of the variable message signage installations, and it was agreed that an update on progress be presented at the next meeting of the Board.
David Land noted that at its meeting of 21 June 2022 it had been agreed that a Board meeting be arranged to consider identified risks, and asked for an update.
Geoff Paul advised that discussions with the development partner regarding planning requirements were ongoing, and a report should be available for presentation to the Board in September which would include detailed risks. David Maddan asked that an overview of the full scheme be included in the report.
Stronger Town Board Project Update
Geoff Paul presented a report to the Board which provided a position statement in respect of the Stronger Town Business Cases for the projects which were included in the Town Investment Plan.
Tindale Triangle and Auckland Retail Park
The report provided details of the Board’s discussion at its meeting on 18 July 2022 when a proposal to replace the Tindale Triangle project with the Auckland Retail Park project was considered.
At that meeting the report recommended that the Board consider supporting both projects and that the Tindale Triangle project be progressed with the essential works to increase the capacity of key junctions which were currently preventing new development. It was also recommended that the Board receive a report regarding the issues associated with being able to financially support the Auckland Retail Park project.
The Board had been clear that it wanted to support the Auckland Retail Park project and did not agree to the recommendation to support both projects.
Since the meeting on 18 July 2022, a Section 278 agreement had been submitted by the developer of the Auckland Retail Park to seek consent from the LPA that the planning condition relating to highway improvements could be discharged. Council Officers were currently working through the s278 design in detail.
Council Officers also continued to carry out due diligence work with the developer to ensure that the Board would have all the information it needed to make an informed decision and to provide the Section 151 Officer with the level of assurance required for any Business Case sign-off. This information included the consideration of any subsidy control issues, and evidence that the scheme could not be delivered without viability gap funding.
Tom Smyth added that a formal request for an extension to the Business Case submission was also required to CLGU. The extension request would need to include a deadline, and December 2022 was suggested. He encouraged the Board to start spending the allocated monies.
Following a question from Rob Yorke, Mark Jackson confirmed that the McDonald’s roundabout was not included in the s278 application but as part of the design assessment Officers would be looking to see that the s278 proposals would resolve the wider traffic issues in the area, including McDonald’s roundabout.
AGREED that a formal extension to the deadline from CLGU be requested to allow full consideration of all matters relating to Auckland Retail Park, other growth in the area, and associated transport works required before development could take place.
Walking and Cycling
At its meeting on 18 July 2022 the Board considered an alternative route to the proposal that had been developed for Business Case submission. The route was from Binchester to Witton Park and was known as The Heritage Walk.
The report presented to the Board clearly stated that the estimated cost of the proposal at between £6m and £7m exceeded the STF allocation of £2.5m, and that the scheme must meet DfT design standards because Government funding was being used.
The Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Any Other Business
The Board discussed the importance of marketing the town, in view of the number of vacant premises, and Graham Wood advised that a Strategic Communications Officer had been appointed. He also explained that the vacancy rate had fallen in the last 12 months.
Graham Wood also advised that the first newsletter was currently in print and could be shared electronically with the Board. The new website was in development and would supplement the newsletters to promote the plans for the town.
Rob Yorke stated that he had been sent a message about the newsletter from a resident who had already received it.
Councillor Siddle made the point that the Town Council was central to communications and was looking at ways it could be more pro-active. It should be a conduit for communications activity and was frustrated that it received information second-hand.
Members discussed the branding and suggestions for communication and engagement with local people, which included digital media formats and the use of a small specialist local communications company.
Rob Yorke stated that to attract inward investment all digital media formats should be employed. The fall in the number of vacant premises in the town should be included in the next edition of the newsletter. The Board minutes could be used by the Town Council to disseminate information to local people. The SDEA could also assist with sharing information.
The Board was advised that communications and branding of the overall plans for the Town were within the remit of the Strategic Advisory Panel, which had been set up to keep residents and businesses informed. The Panel was responsible for looking at communicating the Future High Streets Fund projects as well as those being funded by the Stronger Towns Fund.
This was questioned by David Maddan who considered that communications was also part of the Board’s responsibility.
AGREED that David Land and Geoff Paul to discuss whether the Board could assist with communications and marketing.
David Maddan was pleased to see that the College had drawn from the Enabling Fund to advance the delivery of the Springboard to Employment project. He asked if TAP could discuss access to the Fund in respect of TAP led schemes.
Property Re-use Fund applications
Following a question from Rob Yorke, Graham Wood advised that 2 applications had been approved, 2 applications were under consideration and 17 expressions of interest had been received.
Bus Station and Multi-storey Car Park
Rob Yorke asked if the new proposals for a ground floor car park to replace the proposed multi-storey car park had been completed.
Geoff Paul hoped that this work would be completed within the next 10 days.
Date of Next Meeting
AGREED that up to December 2022 monthly meetings of the Board be arranged with the first meeting to be held on a date to be agreed in September 2022.