Minutes

Special, Bishop Auckland Stronger Town Board - Monday 18 July 2022 3.00 pm

Proposed venue: The Elgar Room - Bishop Auckland Town Hall. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Bishop Paul Butler, Helen Golightly, Mike Matthews and Katy Severs.

2.

Minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2022 pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Minutes:

The draft Minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2022 were presented to the Board. Some comments/amendments had been received and as this was a Special meeting of the Board the draft Minutes would be considered for approval at the next ordinary meeting on 28 July 2022.

 

Canny Hill Statue

 

Following a request for an update the Board was informed that DCC was looking at a maintenance budget for the statue. Other than the £50k Stronger Towns funding (STF) as a Quick Win project no additional funding from the STF was being requested.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Members were reminded of the requirement to review their declarations of interest prior to each meeting of the Board, and to declare at the start of the meeting, including any declarations in relation to the Town Centre Diversification Fund.

 

 

4.

Business Case Delivery Update pdf icon PDF 332 KB

Minutes:

Geoff Paul presented an update on Business Case delivery in respect of each Project which included:

Delivery timeline

Content development

Risk review

Next steps

 

The update was for information and the CLGU representatives advised the Board that requests for extensions of time for business case submission were being considered.

 

AGREED that the update be noted.

5.

Stronger Towns Funding Project: Tindale pdf icon PDF 189 KB

Minutes:

Geoff Paul presented a report which considered the options available to the Board in relation to the Stronger Town Funding supporting projects in the Tindale area.

 

By way of background Geoff Paul reminded the Board that the Town Investment Plan specifically included the Tindale Triangle project which would improve the capacity of three junctions in the area which were preventing new housing, commercial and retail development taking place. Council officers had been developing the detailed business case for submission to Government by the deadline of the end of July.

 

At its meeting on 21 June 2022 the Board considered a new project that would provide a viability gap grant to a developer to enable the provision of new leisure and retail facilities at Tindale. The development would create over 400 jobs and secure private sector investment. The developer had called the development the Auckland Retail Park. Officers were asked to consider this scheme as an alternative to the Tindale Triangle project.

 

This report considered both schemes.

 

The Business Case for Tindale Triangle was on target for submission later this month. The design proposals for the three junctions were included in the report. The scheme rated very highly in terms of value for money (benefit cost ratio over 4) and would enable future housing, leisure and retail development as described in the Town Investment Plan.

 

The Auckland Retail Park proposal comprised of a mix of retail and leisure providing eateries, gym, cinema and bowling alley with an estimated 450 jobs created.

 

The Board was advised that planning permission for the development was granted a number of years ago and included a condition which prevented development taking place until highway improvements to address capacity were implemented (The Tindale Triangle improvements).

 

The Board was also informed that a £3m grant to the developer to meet a viability gap would need to satisfy a number of tests before a Business Case could be signed off by the S151 Officer. These were listed in the report. Work on this was ongoing and it was suggested that this be further considered at the Board meeting on 28 July.

 

If the Board was minded to prioritise support for the Auckland Retail Park and deliver the anticipated benefits to the wider town then the Board could consider supporting both projects. This would require a review of unallocated Funds in the Town Centre Diversification Fund, but it was important to stress that movement of Funds could have an adverse impact on the town centre by further out of town retail development. Such a change would also require a project variation request to Government as the Town Investment Plan outputs agreed with the Government would not be delivered. Board was also advised that any decision to support this project would require approval from Government to extend the deadline for business case submission.

 

The Board was advised that the Business Cases currently being delivered and those subject to agreed extensions were at risk of final costs being in excess of original  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Stronger Towns Funding Project: Walking and Cycling pdf icon PDF 796 KB

Minutes:

Geoff Paul presented a report which considered the options available to the Board in relation to Stronger Towns Funding supporting walking and cycling projects in Bishop Auckland.

 

He advised that the project had been specifically included in the Town Investment Plan and the ambition was to enhance the cycling and walking network in and around the town. The project had been proposed by the Thematic group at the March meeting of the Board and officers had been working on developing the detailed business case for submission to Government by the end of the month.

 

On 21 June 2022 the Board raised a proposal to prioritise an alternative route from Binchester to Witton Park. This was referred to in the report as the Heritage Walk. The route was approximately 6.6km.

 

The Heritage Walk had significant challenges. A fundamental issue for this proposal was affordability. The scheme would need to meet Department for Transport (DfT) standards and using up to date benchmarking data, each kilometre would cost around £750k. In addition to this base cost the report identified other costs associated with structural and engineering works and land acquisition. The overall estimate for the delivery of the Heritage Walk was between £6m and £7m. The STF budget was £2.5m with a DCC contribution of £0.5m for the original proposals.

 

An assessment had been made using the DfT appraisal tool AMAT. The estimated usage of the route was low and would be largely for leisure purposes as opposed to commuting or educational trips. Using the tool the route would offer poor value for money, with a benefit cost ratio (BCR) estimate of 0.49, which was less than the STF threshold of 1.2.

 

In conclusion although the project was a good one which would enhance leisure provision, it was not deliverable within available budgets and did not offer value for money.

 

The original proposals which were detailed in the report would improve significantly substandard routes, would secure high user numbers and represented good value for money. The proposals directly supported the  aims of the Town Investment Plan (TIP). The BCR of the original proposal was over 2.

 

The report detailed the specific works that were being proposed in 9 separate locations and provided details of works needed for each. The report identified the criteria that had been used to assess the level of impact delivered by STF investment and described how the 9 routes had been prioritised.

 

The Board discussed the report.

 

Rob Yorke stated that in his view the works should have been carried out by DCC in any event. The number of cars parked in Escomb at weekends demonstrated that this was a well-used footpath. The scheme would link into assets such as Binchester Roman Fort, Kynren and Escomb Saxon Church, becoming a Heritage Walk in its own right. There were sections of the walk that local residents would use, and following discussions he had with landowners it would unlock land for overnight stay provision. He suggested that the Binchester  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Any Other Business

Minutes:

Nik Turner asked if future reports could include potential risks, including financial and reputational.

8.

Date of Next Meeting

Minutes:

Thursday 28 July 2022 at 1.00pm.

 

David Land asked if Board members could attend the next meeting in person where possible.