A further step forward for King’s Lynn’s £25m Town Deal will be made next week when the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk’s Cabinet and the Town Deal Board are asked to sign off the final project confirmations and their prioritisation ahead of them being submitted to the Government.
Cabinet will meet on 24 August and the Town Deal Board will meet on 25 August to review and hopefully agree the submissions presented in the report. Submission of the project confirmations is the next step in securing the funding offered by the Government for specific projects in King’s Lynn. The Heads of Terms for the deal have already been signed off by the Chair of the Board and the Chief Executive of the council as the accountable body.
The original projects submitted to Government to secure the deal have been reviewed in line with changes to other schemes and other factors including Covid impacts, and the decision not to build the Parkway bridge. The adjustments to the schemes are designed to ensure each project brings maximum benefit in line with the Government’s Town Deal Funding aims and objectives.
The Government has also requested that schemes are prioritised so that those that can have a full business case ready within 3 months can be fast-tracked, while the businesses cases for the others are being developed. All businesses cases need to be completed within 12 months of signing the heads of terms. Funding will not be confirmed or released until full business cases are submitted and agreed by MHCLG. Deadline for submission of the business cases is end of June 2022.
In the Town Investment Plan, priority projects totalling £33m were grouped into the following themes:
- Innovative, growing businesses and skilled workforce
This includes the following projects – a multi-user community hub, youth and retraining pledge, Innovation and Collaboration Incubator and St George’s Guildhall Complex
- Sustainably connected town
This includes a project to develop active and clean connectivity
- Historic riverfront and repurposed town centre
This includes projects focussed on Riverfront regeneration, town centre repurposing and public realm
The Innovation and Collaboration Incubator will remain within the Town Investment Plan as a project for future funding but will not be take forward as part of the Town Deal funding. The final project list that is being put before Cabinet and the Town Deal Board, which fits within the £25m funding envelope offered by Government, is as follows:
- Town Centre repurposing (looking at converting vacant premises to mixed use, including residential),
- public realm (looking a schemes that will enhance areas where other projects are planned to take place,
- youth and retraining pledge (working with Norfolk County Council to provide a range of support),
- St Georges Guildhall complex (establish a flourishing and commercially sustainable creative enterprise),
- Active and clean connectivity (improvements to cycling/walking infrastructure, changes to gyratory, an informal park and ride and EV parking at the Nar Ouse Enterprise Zone),
- riverfront regeneration (focusing on Custom House, Sommerfeld and Thomas and Silos site, and improvements to South Quay, Boal Quay and outerpurfleet, and
- Multi-user community hub (a one-stop-shop for community support services).
The public realm and youth and retraining pledge are the two projects to be fast-tracked.
Match funding for the prioritised projects has been secured, while for other projects some of the match funding has been secured with the remaining still to be secured through a potential National Heritage Lottery Fund Bid, from the Government’s Community Renewal Fund or from other identified sources.
Graham Purkins, Chair of the Town Deal Board, said: “The amount of work required to get to the position of agreed final business cases for each project and match funding in place should not be underestimated.
“The Government will not release funding ahead of that happening. We need to ensure that each project is robust and meets government requirements as well as ensuring they deliver the local benefits we envisage in terms of our Town Investment Plan. It is vital that the projects benefit the town, strengthen the local economy, and make the town a place of choice to live, work and visit.
“We will be seeking input from businesses and residents, as well as all our identified stakeholders, as we put together feasibility and viability studies for each of the projects over the remaining available 10 months.”
As part of the report to Cabinet the council is being asked to confirm its commitment to underwriting the match funding for St George’s Guildhall Complex, so that work can commence on these proposals and an expression of interest submitted to the NHLF who have now opened their funding process. It is hoped that if the expression of interest is supported a Stage 1 National Heritage Lottery Fund bid will be submitted. This will involve commissioning studies, surveys, design, planning including any listed building consent, as well as engagement with stakeholders and partners, and potentially the development of a Charitable Incorporated Organisation or a Community Interest Company to achieve a flourishing and commercially sustainable creative enterprise. Recommendations for progressing this element will be brought back to the council’s cabinet and the Town Deal Board later this year.
The riverfront regeneration consists of several elements of work, some of which have already been completed. In order to complete the business cases for the elements of the project contained within the Town Deal, surveys, design and site investigations are required, along with a strategy for submission of applications and consents for infrastructure and public realm works at Outer Purfleet, South Quay and Boal Quay, and to market the Sommerfeld and Thomas and Grain Silo sites is required for either sale or to find a developer partner. The project also includes the development of a flexible exhibition in the Custom House and the opportunity to make it available for private venue hire, and to continue to seek a feature vessel for the Outer Purfleet.
Town Centre repurposing involves identifying and assessing potential sites, undertaking feasibility and viability appraisals and commissioning any necessary work to inform potential acquisition and redevelopment of the sites into mixed use to support residential living and start up businesses.
Public realm work has already begun with advance funding made available last year. A public realm action plan was prepared last year to set out the key areas for focus and improvement, to complement the investment planned in individual sites. A sub-group of the Town Deal Board has been established to develop ideas for this project that fit with the design principles of the public realm action plan, enabling this project to be fast tracked.
Active and clean connectivity is made up for 4 elements – improvements to local cycling and walking infrastructure, including upgrade to the existing pedestrian/cycle bridge over the sandline, changes to the ‘gyratory’ identified as a priority project in the King’s Lynn Area Transport Strategy, an active travel hub at the Nar Ouse Business Park, with space for parking and facilities to encourage walking and cycling, and the potential for an informal park and ride facility. EV charging is also being considered, and PV car ports could be included if there is a sufficient level of cost benefit.
Multi-user Community Hub includes the co-location of library and adult learning alongside a range of other partners to deliver a ‘one stop shop’ for community support services. This is an opportunity to provide a modern, flexible space that will support skills and training, help into employment and an enhanced cultural offer. Wide-ranging stakeholder and community engagement will help inform the development of this project.
Youth and retraining pledge will be led by Norfolk County Council and will deliver bespoke support for youth skills, retraining and employment and workforce development. It is the only revenue funding project from the Town Deal and as such will be fast-tracked for business case approval with delivery hopefully starting by the end of the financial year.
The projects were all developed following extensive consultation and engagement under the banner of Vision King’s Lynn. Further consultation and engagement will continue for each project and the overall programme to ensure that people are kept informed and involved in progress of this multi-million-pound initiative.
Two projects are already well underway as a result of accelerated funding of £750,000 received via the Town Deal. These are the School of Nursing at the College of West Anglia, and a public realm scheme in the High Street, in King’s Lynn.
For full details see the August 24th cabinet report on west-norfolk.gov.uk