This month’s update highlights a significant milestone as the Town Deal Board confirmed the final list of projects that will be submitted to MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government). The board’s approval came after the borough council’s cabinet met and approved the list the previous day; the council is the accountable body for the Town Deal.
The list of projects was approved following discussion in the July meeting which saw the long list that had been included in the Town Investment Plan submission shortlisted. The final list of confirmed projects are:
- Town Centre repurposing (looking at converting vacant premises to mixed use, including residential);
- Public realm (looking at schemes that will improve the public space in keys areas of the town, including opportunities for ‘greening’ the town centre);
- Youth and retraining pledge (working with Norfolk County Council to provide a range of support to assist with raising attainment, aspirations, training, and workforce development);
- St Georges Guildhall complex (restoring Britain’s oldest working theatre and establishing a flourishing and commercially sustainable creative enterprise);
- Active and clean connectivity (improvements to cycling/walking infrastructure, changes to gyratory, active travel hub at the Nar Ouse Enterprise Zone);
- Riverfront regeneration (focusing on Custom House and Outer Purfleet, public realm improvements to South Quay, Boal Quay), and
- Multi-user community hub (library relocation and a one-stop-shop for community support services).
This list of projects will be submitted to MHCLG by Tuesday 31 August and after this, the government will issue grant offer letters for the individual projects. Between now and June 2022, detailed business cases will be developed for each project. Currently each project is defined by the key outcome and high-level goals. As the business cases are developed, the specific detail of the projects will be defined during which there will be opportunities for community and stakeholder engagement as part of this work. The business cases will be submitted to government as they are ready. The next ten months will see a lot of activity across all the projects and more detail will be shared in due course.
Two projects that will be fast tracked are the youth and retraining pledge and the public realm as both of these projects can have business cases prepared shortly.
To support the development of the business cases, a local assurance framework has been produced. This sets out the reporting structure and the governance arrangements as well as a flow chart for the development and due diligence of business cases to ensure they are robust and comply with the government’s guidelines. It’s a process required by the government.
Communications and engagement is key to the development and delivery of the Town Investment Plan and Town Deal projects and the board agreed the communications and engagement strategy for the next year. This is based upon the principles of making it safe, easy, and accessible for people to get involved. All of the communications and engagement activities will be delivered under the Vision King’s Lynn brand – which brings everything together – and will include different activities for different participants; for example, direct email updates to the subscribers who have signed up to receive updates. The strategy focuses on communications and engagement around the Town Investment Plan, and individual communications and engagement activities for the Town Deal projects, making sure that people can get involved in these. Longer term, work will take place to market and promote King’s Lynn wider, building on the benefits of the Towns Fund investment and the delivery of the plan and projects.
Feedback from the subgroups included an update on the preparations to develop the overall vision for the Guildhall and preparations for applications to match funders. It was noted that there is lots of community spirit amongst people involved in this work. The repurposing of the public realm has focused on looking at public realm and buildings; this is one of the first projects to come forward. The route from the railway station to the riverfront has been agreed as the focus, with ideas such as new and upgraded seating, artwork, greening, and opportunities for pop-ups. A long list of suggestions will be produced with community engagement. Finally, the development of the modular building for the school of nursing is progressing well despite some additional challenges in getting the foundations ready because of ground conditions. Approval from the Nursing and Midwifery Council is being sought as this project moves forward.
The next meeting will be 22 September.