The Town Deal Board met on 28 April 2021. The minutes of the previous meeting were signed off and these are now available on the Vision King’s Lynn website.
Board members were invited to take part in a workshop session with consultants SQW. SQW have been appointed by the borough council to complete a detailed demand and feasibility study of a proposed Innovation & Collaboration Incubator (ICI) on the Nar Ouse Enterprise Zone.
The concept for an ICI is set out in the Town Investment Plan as a facility to support enterprise and innovation for SMEs and Start-up businesses. It would be particularly for sectors like manufacturing and advanced engineering which are a key strength of King’s Lynn’s existing economic base.
There are currently two projects underway, which have been funded through the Town Deal Accelerated Fund. The public realm works on the High Street and the School of Nursing on the College of West Anglia site, the latter also having secured funding from additional sources. Updates were provided as follows:
School of nursing
Demolition of the print room building within the grounds of the College of West Anglia’s (CWA) King’s Lynn campus has recently completed to make space for the new School of Nursing Studies (SoNS), ready to recruit the Level 5 Nursing Associate Apprentices from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in early 2022.
Building works are set to begin on the over half a million-pound facility by contractors, the McAvoy Group, in the coming months and completed by the start of this academic year in September 2021. The group are currently in the process of constructing the pre-fabricated building.
The modular building due to be erected will consist of three rooms; a clinical room mirroring a new-scale hospital ward, a high-tech simulation suite, and lastly, a skills rooms, focusing on clinical skills training such as cannulation.
Following the procurement period building contracts have been awarded and equipment purchased. The SoNS will be one of the first education settings in the country to receive two brand-new and state-of-the-art simulation mannequins, called the SiMan 3G PLUS. Supplied by Laerdal, the mannequin replicates a range of patient scenarios to provide a fully immersive simulation experience for students.
High Street Works
Works are progressing well. There have been delays, in part related to accommodating businesses extended and variable opening hours – meaning that the period for evening works has been minimised. However, flexibility is the key to supporting local businesses wherever possible. The total resurfacing period has increased to an estimated 10 weeks rather than the original 7 (currently at the beginning of week 6).
The surfacing works have been re-phased from 3 phases to 2. Phase 1 should be completed in around 2 weeks’ time. Phase 2 should be completed much quicker. However, as with any groundworks, there is a risk of further delay should unexpected services or other problems be discovered.
There will be further works in a few months’ time when the final street furniture, lamp columns, and other finishing touches are undertaken separately to the surfacing works.
Sub Group feedback
The chairs of the newly-established sub-groups, which had met earlier in the month, fed back from their meetings as follows:
Skills Working Group
The skills working group met and discussed both the challenges in the area and the opportunities and then looked at how these might translate into a project using Town Deal Funding. It was a positive and constructive meeting. The group will meet again once the Town Deal Funding announcement has been made.
Town Centre Repurposing and Public Realm Working Group
The first Town Centre Repurposing & Public Realm Working Group, chaired by Vicky Etheridge, took place on 27 April. A constructive and positive meeting which was wide ranging in terms of topics discussed.
The discussion initially focused on the relationship between the public realm and the use of buildings and how they are connected. They also discussed the changing nature of consumer behaviour, particularly regarding leisure time and going out in the evening.
It was noted that people seem to be going out later and staying out later. The group is very keen to look at this further and explore opportunities to encourage people to stay in town longer, bridging the gap between 9-5 (retail/office work) and the night time economy (going out to eat, drink, theatre and cinema etc).
Opportunities to market the town and its vacant spaces were highlighted, particularly for leisure pursuits that might encourage greater dwell time and appeal to wider audiences – such as bowling, climbing and other activities.
The next meeting of the group, which will take place this month, will look specifically at the night-time economy, public realm – outdoor seating for hospitality/making it more attractive, and pop-up shops/experiences in empty shop units.
Guildhall and Creative Hub Stakeholder and Community Group
Michael Baldwin chaired the Guildhall and Creative Hub Stakeholder and Community Group. This is a large group, so the first part of the meeting was taken up with introductions.
The group all had the opportunity to look at and agree the terms of reference. Presentations were given by Duncan Hall and Jemma Curtis giving the background to Guildhall & Creative Hub project and opportunities to refurbish and revitalise the complex as a part of the wider cultural offer for the town as presented in the Town Investment Plan.
A timeline for detailed business cases was given, and stakeholder and community group members were informed of the importance of their involvement in shaping the plans for the town deal projects. Members were invited to contribute their thoughts on what they would like to see coming out of the project and also asked about their thoughts on uses and activities that would be sustainable for the next 30-40 years.
Feedback will be gathered together ready for the next meeting to be held on 12 May.
Guildhall and Creative Hub Advisory Group
The first meeting took place on 19 April. The meeting, which was chaired by Michael Baldwin, went on longer than anticipated due to enthusiastic discussion about the potential of the project. The advisory group received feedback from the stakeholder and community group meeting.
The interrelationship between the different groups and the Town Deal Board was explained and agreed. The group also understood the need to be ready to act swiftly to ensure any deadlines set out within funding bids could be met. The Town Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund being two.
The vision for the site was discussed and it is clear that previous marketing of the site and funding bids have missed the opportunity to include the Shakespearian link, the unparalleled history of the Guildhall as performance venue and the birthplace for Armin. The group felt that these elements presented exciting opportunities for the site, town, county and country.
Discussion turned to the inclusion of the white Barn and White Barn Annex in the proposals. The advisory group felt that these presented some exciting new opportunities to the vision for the complex.
The group then discussed the possibility of setting up a Community Interest Company whose primary function would be to build an endowment fund for the Guildhall to safeguard it and ensure it can flourish.
Further recommendations including updating the Vision King’s Lynn website to enable the public to view project updates.
Levelling-up Fund, Town Deal announcement, Community Renewal Fund
Updates were given on the future funding opportunities through the Levelling-up Fund and Community Renewal Fund which could secure funding towards projects identified in the Town Investment Plan.
Communications and engagement
The communications protocol is being reviewed to reflect that the Town Deal Board is moving into delivery now, rather than the development of the funding bid. A communications plan will also be produced for this next phase, along with stakeholder mapping for the Town Deal and for the individual projects within. Documents will be circulated in due course. The website will be reviewed and updated to reflect the new sub-groups and to encourage more engagement on an ongoing basis.
We hope you find this update useful. Please provide any feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org
The next update will be circulated shortly after the next Town Deal Board meeting on 26 May 2021 (unless we receive a funding announcement before then, and we will of course update you accordingly).
Graham Purkins (Chair) and Michael Baldwin (Deputy Chair)