Officers presented the report which had been included in the agenda and summarised the business case for St George’s Guildhall and Creative Hub project for approval by Cabinet in the Council’s capacity as the “Accountable Body” to MHCLG and as part of the Council’s role on the Town Deal Board.
A copy of the presentation is attached.
The Guildhall Complex and Creative Hub Task Group had met the day before this meeting to consider the Business Case. The Chair of the Task Group, Councillor Nockolds provided a summary of the Task Group discussion, which had also been circulated to the Panel in advance of the meeting. She explained that the Task Group generally supported the proposals, with their main concern being that more detail of the Creative Hub needed to be included in the Business Case.
The Chair thanked Officers and Members for their reports and invited questions and comments from the Panel as summarised below.
Councillor Morley who was on the Task Group commented that the main issue was the visibility of the Creative Hub within the Business Case. He also felt that a letter of support from the College of West Anglia would be beneficial to support the educational packages. Councillor Morley also highlighted the financial risk to the Borough Council should the CIO fail.
The Assistant Director explained that more information on the Creative Hub could be included in future documents.
Councillor de Whalley who was on the Task Group explained that he had raised concern with the visitor numbers, timescales, and the future of the Creative Hub.
In response to questions from Councillor Moriarty, it was explained that the nature of the site meant that it could be developed in phases and the project could be scaled down if full funding was not awarded. Other funding opportunities would also be explored. It was explained that the Business Case had been presented for Independent Assessment, which had come back as satisfactory. The Town Deal had also agreed the draft business case.
In response to a question from Councillor Jones, it was explained that a variety of groups would be engaged in activities.
Councillor Nockolds, Chair of the Task Group, informed the Panel that once the CIO had been established they would have the opportunity to bid for funding which was only available to Charitable organisations.
Councillor Kemp addressed the Panel under Standing Order 34. She supported the project which would benefit residents of the Borough, raised concerns about finances and commented that improvements to the Ferry landing was required. It was confirmed that improvements to the Ferry were not part of this project and there was a local assurance framework process which had to be signed off by the S151 Officer.
Councillor Hudson addressed the Panel under Standing Order 34 and was informed that revenue detail was included in the paperwork.
The Chair commented that she was keen for the project to include activities for those to which English was not there first language. It was explained that a range of activities were planned for different groups.
The Chair felt that the promotion of tourism as a whole was important and needed to be co-ordinated, and it was explained that there was a marketing element included in the business plan.
The Chair thanked the Members of the Task Group for considering the Business Case on behalf of the Panel.
RESOLVED: That the Regeneration and Development Panel support the recommendations to Cabinet as set out below with the amendment to recommendation one in bold below.
Cabinet is recommended to: