Agenda item

Matters arising - Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership Projects Update

Minutes:

At the last meeting, consideration had been given to a report on the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLEP) Projects.  Updates were received on a number of the decisions that had been made, as detailed below:

 

1.      That the development of outline business cases for Council led projects i) and ii) below for the next funding round of GLLEP Growth Deal and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) bidding be approved – i) South Holland Business Growth and Employment Project (Crease Drove – Growth Deal); and ii) Grants4Growth Phase 2 (ERDF).

 

·        South Holland Business Growth and Employment Project (Crease Drove – Growth Deal) – The Portfolio Holder for Localism, Economic Development and Big Society advised that the Economic Development department had submitted an outline business case for the Crease Drove project and were still waiting to hear if this had been approved to go forward to the next full business case stage.  The Economic Development department was working with Assets on the full business case so the Authority was ready to submit within the tight timescales set by the GLLEP programme for the next round of Growth deal funding.  Should the bid not go forward in this round, a full business case was ready to take advantage of future rounds or alternative GLLEP funding sources.

 

·        Grants4Growth Phase 2 (ERDF) – The Portfolio Holder for Localism, Economic Development and Big Society reported that this outline business case had been submitted and would form part of the business support GLLEP Growth Hub programme, and was likely to be funded through the European Regional Development Fund (another LEP funding source).  A full business case was currently being worked up ready for submission in early 2015 when the programme had been finally agreed with the EU and had been signed off with central government and UK LEPS.

 

2.      That the partner led projects identified within the GLLEP Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) and projects i), ii), iii) and iv)  below that meet strategic SEP alignment priorities be supported by the Cabinet in priority order – i) Spalding Western Relief Road Phase 2 and 3; ii) Holbeach Campus; iii) Peppermint Junction; and iv) Rail Freight Interchange.

 

·        The Portfolio Holder for Localism, Economic Development and Big Society confirmed that the above ranking order of SHDC priorities would be reflected in all future strategic documents and submissions.

 

3.      That a potential project to provide and extend Spalding Town bus service be researched to ascertain if it met the criteria.

 

·        The Portfolio Holder for Localism, Economic Development and Big Society advised that following some research, the Economic Development Manager had advised Councillor A Newton (who had raised the original question of GLLEP funding for an extension to Spalding bus services), that this type of project would not meet the GLLEP funding criteria due to its scale and nature.  Economic Development officers were currently investigating any alternative sources of funding which may be able to assist.

 

4.      That an update on the schedule for funding of Phase 1 of the Spalding Western Relief Road be provided to the next meeting of the Cabinet.

 

·        The Planning Manager provided the following update.

 

Work to develop and deliver the Spalding Western Relief Road (SWRR) has been ongoing for a number of years and pre-dates the adoption of the 2006 Local Plan.  The main drivers presently centre on the need to deliver substantial housing growth to Spalding in tandem with achieving a long-term and realistic solution to mitigate the impact of additional mainline train services running through the town.

 

Phase 1 of the SWRR has outline consent and its delivery relies upon developer contributions associated with the delivery of Holland Park.  In order to achieve early delivery, engagement with the County Council as highways authority and developer has been both key and has been highly constructive.  The present position is that the County Council has agreed in principle to front-fund early delivery of Phase 1 with the developer refunding these costs in stages as the approved 2,250 houses and other associated development comes on-stream.  Detailed work on route alignment and geophysical surveys has been undertaken and engineering drawings prepared by the County Council.  These will be submitted to the Council very shortly as part of the Reserved Matters and condition-set associated with the outline consent.  It is presently anticipated that, as a consequence of permission being recently granted for 312 houses accessed from The Broadway, construction work on housing will commence on site prior to Christmas.    Once the detailed consent is granted for the precise alignment of Phase 1 to the SWRR this will enable it to be built and linked into the Primary Street approved as part of the first phase to Holland Park.  Completion and opening of this section of the SWRR is required prior to the delivery of 500 houses.  It is presently anticipated that this will occur in 2016/17.

 

Phase 2 to the SWRR, that section leading from Holland Park to Pinchbeck Road, is critical to both Spalding’s longer-term growth ambitions and as a means of providing traffic relief to the town.  It is identified as ‘critical infrastructure’ within the emerging South East Lincolnshire Local Plan and the route is identified by the County Council within LTP4 as one of its four County-wide priorities.  Phase 2 of the SWRR (a combination of earlier iterations of a previously considered three-stage approach) would see the delivery of the remainder of the SWRR road, this including two further bridges, in its entirety.  Further, Phase 2 would provide a longer-term solution to anticipated levels of growth in tandem with providing an overall solution to both present and predicted future levels of traffic flow and the anticipated level-crossing down-times associated with the upgrading of the mainline service running through the centre of town.  A funding model is being developed in tandem with the County Council and this will need to include engagement with current landowners/potential developers, this again predicated on early delivery of the whole.  As this critical piece of infrastructure is central to the delivery of anticipated growth in Spalding up to 2031, funding is equally critical.  The estimated cost of the works associated with Phases 1 and 2 to the SWRR is in the region of £96m, so say £100m.  Whilst the costs attributable to Phase 2 will again need to be borne by future anticipated growth a piecemeal approach to delivery ought ideally to be avoided and front-funding is highly likely to need to be supplemented with additional external funding in order to achieve in-time delivery.

 

Recognising all of the above, a Steering Group comprising officers of this Council and the County Council has met regularly for the past three years in order to monitor and plan project delivery.  It is timely that a recent restructure at County has now combined, under one umbrella, strategic highways and planning functions.  This presents the opportunity to embed delivery with Local Plan production as County are also partners in the Local Plan process.

 

The delivery of a further significant housing development in Spalding over the next 25 years would contribute substantially towards funding Phase 2 of the relief road but would, consequently, be likely to deliver little else.  In recognition of this officers and County are presently working on identifying priorities within the County-wide and District-wide Infrastructure Delivery Plans.  Phase 2 to the SWRR is recognised as one of the County’s key priorities and its early delivery is seen as the stimulus to future growth of the District.  Funding is critical to the process and, whatever form this takes, it requires a mechanism whereby Phase 2 to the SWRR is delivered prior to significant numbers of additional housing in order to better manage traffic within the town.  At this stage it is difficult to predict what the final funding arrangements will be in detail.  However front-funding, whether by the County Council/LEP or both in conjunction with others, with the developers refunding all or part in stages, is the only realistic method of achieving delivery of the whole.  Clarity on delivery mechanisms and timescales will need to be provided prior to the Examination in Public of the emerging Local Plan.  As a consequence, we are currently working on modelling and costing delivery mechanisms in tandem with the County Council and it is anticipated that the Planning Service will be in a position to provide greater clarity and advise Members accordingly early next year.  For the present, it is fair to say that this is probably the Planning Services key priority in Spalding and one which it will continue to work on with County to deliver.

 

(The Planning Manager left the meeting at 6.40pm, following discussion of this item.)