Agenda item

Externally Funded Regeneration Projects


The interim Assistant Director for Assets and Major Projects provided a presentation to the Committee detailing the Externally Funded Regeneration Projects.


During the debate the following comments and questions were raised:-


·       Yeovil refresh, £4.3 million needing to be redirected due to not being able to continue with cattle market developments.

·       Using remaining funds on retail to residential conversion for buildings located in some of the redevelopments undertaken. The Wilkinsons building is still with the administrators, and being considered, The NHS confirmed they wanted a presence on the high street.

·       The option of Council offices being located the town centre were are also being considered.

·       Confirmed that the plan is for front offices to be installed into the library in the near future.

·       Funding being received for regeneration across the county was considered a positive, however concerns were expressed over funding being focused on projects across the built-up areas of the county, funding towards the rural areas for employment opportunities, transport and infrastructure in Somerset was encouraged in not losing sight of rural areas.

·       Funding for town deals were based on criteria government set out and based on a town investment plan being submitted.

·       Although funding was targeted at towns, following the announcement this week for Tonedale Mill regeneration, there was disappointment that the rural mobility strategy has no funding associated to bid for and its left with existing resources to address this problem. There was a significant challenge to continue funding every project at the same level given the context of the financial emergency.

·       Where there were instances of match funding commitments, it was questioned how this would work if match funding from the Council was withdrawn. This was a risk along with a recognised threat that this could be the last funding bids for several years due to a lack of resource due to the financial emergency.

·       Match funding commitments totalled less than 1% of the £120million funding being allocated.

·       Scope remined within funding streams to change by 30%. Beyond this approval is required from the department. The Council has good relationships with colleagues in Homes England and beyond, all projects were suffering from inflation costs of materials for the projects whilst there being no spare money from the projects to address this.

·       Difficult choices were having to be made in sustaining capacity across regeneration activity which remained discretionary activity.

·       Staffing costs could be absorbed into the funding, work was ongoing to consider how partners could being forward regeneration schemes with the Council playing an enabling role as opposed to a delivery role.

·       Loss of skills and knowledge was recognised as an issue with large changes to the Council. There remained many town councils looking at what they could do, alongside the opportunity for bigger town councils to look at Economic Development functions.

·       In reference to the Bridgwater Tidal barrier funding of £2 million. It was questioned if this was for flooding or electric generation? The tidal barrier was a flood defence project and part of a bigger programme than solely the funding, the £2 million was towards the creation of a cycle path and not the delivery of the barrier. The Council was only responsible for the delivery of the active travel element of the project.

·       The Committee thanked Officer and noted the report.


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