The Board considered the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration, Economy and Growth which provided an update on the development of the projects collectively described as the Town Centre Diversification investment in the Stronger Towns Programme.
Geoff Paul advised that in May 2022, several schemes had been identified replacing the Canopy which was initially proposed in the Town Investment Plan. These projects were detailed in paragraph 5 of the report.
As the Board had expressed a desire to support a broader scope of works for Tindale Triangle, the Board was presented with options to address the budget shortfall in the Town Centre Diversification Project.
Working with the revised Town Centre Diversification budget of £6.35 million and recognising the outcome of the viability assessment, the following schemes had been identified:
Market Place Public Realm/ Active mode link
Property Reuse Fund (Round 2)
Fore Bondgate Public Realm improvements
Market Place Hotel
The schemes had been assessed against the BCR gateway of 1.2 and at this stage it was felt that cumulatively this had been achieved. The schemes were £550k over programme but the detailed cost estimates were still under development so this may change.
Given the tight timescales the detailed scheme design was being accelerated with a proposal to use the 5% capital pre-payments (drawdown).
The Board discussed the proposals.
David Maddan noted that meeting the BCR gateway for the Market Place was a challenge, and asked if the proposals to improve the BCR for Fore Bondgate with improved pedestrian user benefits and reduced traffic flow could be explored in the Market Place.
He supported the proposals for the revised location of the Artists Hub, and suggested looking at re-naming the Mechanics Institute project, given it’s wider scope.
Councillor Scott was in support of the suite of projects and asked if the proposal to return the Mechanics Institute building into ‘economic use’ should be more specific. Graham Wood agreed and confirmed that the process to secure ownership of the building was ongoing with a view to finding a tenant who would meet the requirements of the Trust, whilst also being mindful of other activities already being delivered.
Reference was made to the former Beales Store. Graham Wood advised that there was an integral link between the former Beales Store and the Kingsway car park area. The Kingsway improvements should make the property a more attractive proposition to hotel developers.
The report also provided details of the proposed consultation exercise on the new schemes which would run from 24 October to 18 November.
A Communications Plan had been developed with colleagues in Communications and Marketing, with a steer from the public meeting and the Strategic Advisory Panel.
The following was proposed:
Display space at no. 43
Questionnaire – paper and on-line
Direct stakeholder consultation
It was important that the consultation exercise was as accessible as possible, in as many formats as possible and was clear about what was being consulted upon.
In discussing the consultation the Board expressed the importance of local Councillors and community representatives being informed in advance of what was being consulted upon, and it was suggested that the Strategic Advisory Panel be asked to cascade the information to their networks. It was also suggested that a public meeting be held during the consultation period but this would not be possible within the timescales and the Strategic Advisory Panel had agreed to a public meeting being held in January 2023.
In acknowledging that the timescales were tight, the consultation period could not be extended because of the December deadline for Business Case submission. There would be further specific consultation events on individual projects.
Following discussion the Chair asked the members present to consider the recommendations in both reports.
Natalie-Davison Terranova remained concerned; the re-allocation of funds would undermine the work to regenerate the town centre. She appreciated that the town centre was currently in a poor position but business owners may not be supportive of the revised proposals. She was against the recommendations.
i. the analysis of the A688/Tindale Crescent junction design and scope for addressing increased capacity be noted;
ii. proposals to enhance the S278 design to future proof capacity be agreed;
iii. the proposals for Budget amendment to the Leisure-Retail Park (to be within the wider Tindale Triangle Business Case), reallocated from the Town Centre Diversification and Tindale Triangle STF allocations, to be contained within the agreed Heads of Terms limit, be confirmed. A legal agreement to be drawn up ensuring that the award of the STF funding to the private sector developer, and subsequent spend, is fully dependent upon the delivery of the full Leisure-Retail Park as planned; and
iv. the submission of a change request to CLGU highlighting the broader scope of the planned project intervention be authorised.
Town Centre Diversification
i. the revised Budget envelope for Town Centre Diversification schemes be agreed;
ii. the progress in the development of the individual schemes supporting Town Centre Diversification be noted;
iii. the proposals to utilise the 5% drawdown to accelerate the final phase of scheme design work be noted;
iv. consultation proposals to ensure resident and business input to the progression of the Town Centre diversification schemes be progressed.