On 26 September 2022 the review of the borough’s Local Plan opened for informal public engagement.Read More
In August this year, the Council completed the purchase of Freshney Place shopping centre in Grimsby.
At the time, Council leader, Cllr Philip Jackson, confirmed that the Council would not be running the shopping centre itself, but it would seek to appoint external professional partners to undertake this on its behalf, subject to appropriate governance by the Council.
The economics, finances and long-term strategy of the shopping centre will all be scrutinised by members of the Council through various panels as part of the annual programme of work.
Given the significance of the asset, an additional Council Panel, the Freshney Place Cabinet Committee, will be introduced to have oversight of the annual plan, investment plans, and have the ability to discuss things like significant lettings.
“It’s important that we maintain overall control of the strategic direction of the shopping centre,” Cllr Jackson said. “This is a significant town centre asset, with a huge footprint. By buying the shopping centre, it has allowed us to encompass it within our regeneration plans rather than working alongside it.”
There are two core functions the Council needed to run the shopping centre:
Asset Management: dealing with leases, tenancies and commercial use of the space. Queensberry Retail has been appointed to undertake this element.
Property Management: dealing with the day to day running of the infrastructure, including things like security, maintenance etc. Montagu Evans have been appointed to undertake this element.
Both appointments are on a temporary short-term basis after which longer-term arrangements will be procured.
Article and image from NELC.
Crime reduction, the Levelling Up Fund, Covid-19 support and more topics in the life OF North East Lincolnshire were highlighted in the most recent Leader’s Speech.
The speech was given at the start of the latest Full Council meeting by Councillor Philip Jackson, the authority’s leaer.
“Much has happened since my last Leader’s Statement at the end of July, both nationally and locally,” he said. “Events have been dominated by the sad loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with communities throughout North East Lincolnshire united in mourning and paying tributes. Her Majesty passed away only two days after asking a new Prime Minister to form a Government.
“One of the first acts of the new Government was the Chancellor’s budget statement. As part of that statement, North East Lincolnshire Council was invited to be one of only 38 local authorities involved in early discussions on the creation of new ‘investment zones’, designed to drive business growth, create jobs, and increase wages.
“These zones will apply to specific land areas and will have more relaxed planning rules to release land and accelerate development. They will enjoy reduced taxes for businesses for the first 10 years and various other benefits. Along with our other bids into the Levelling Up Fund, the potential benefits for North East Lincolnshire are huge and would make our development sites even more attractive to investors. Our working relationship with Government and the new Secretary of State for Levelling-up, Housing and Communities, Simon Clarke MP, remains strong and productive.
While talking about Government investment, a £749,500 pot of money from the Government has been secured to help make streets in the East Marsh area of Grimsby safer. Home Office Safer Streets 4 funding has been allocated to our area following a successful joint bid by North East Lincolnshire Council and The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside and is testament to our strong working relationship.
“The aim of the project is to reduce incidents of crime, drug offences and anti-social behaviour and to help residents be safe and feel safe. The latest batch of funding follows other successful bids for North East Lincolnshire, including, most recently, for the West Marsh area. We are now inviting community groups on the East Marsh to come forward and bid for the cash for appropriate schemes and initiatives.
“The Covid-19 pandemic may now be lower profile, but many businesses are still feeling the effects. North East Lincolnshire Council will distribute £4.5 million to eligible local businesses as part of the Government’s Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund. The Government created the £1.5-billion fund to support businesses affected by the pandemic but not eligible for existing business rate support. The money will distributed in the form of business rate relief refunds for the tax year 2021/22 to about 770 local businesses outside the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, who have already benefited from other types of relief.
“Turning now to Grimsby town centre, the council officially took ownership of Freshney Place on August 4. After a period of uncertainty, this now enables us to continue to progress the Future High Street Fund grant-funded scheme to repurpose the western end of Freshney Place and diversify the town centre offer by the introduction of significant leisure use. This includes a multi-screen cinema, for which we already have a local operator. Members will have seen the exciting outline plans which are now out for public consultation prior to going through the formal planning process.
“More good news for the town centre is that Lincolnshire Housing Partnership is to lease the remaining empty space on the ground floor of Cartergate House early next year. This will not only boost town centre footfall but will make LHP’s offices more accessible to the public than their current premises on the A180.
“What a fantastic weekend we had in Grimsby recently with the inaugural Grim Falfest, a celebration of the town’s Viking heritage. The Friday evening saw a huge crowd watch the arrival of Viking longships in the Alexandra Dock, with a Viking themed market on Riverhead Square, which continued over that weekend. The town centre and Grimsby Minster hosted other Viking-related events. The town was buzzing all weekend with a massive increase in footfall and spending. Meanwhile, in People’s Park, a Viking village and Viking battle re-enactments drew big crowds.
“This is exactly the sort of event we need in Grimsby. A huge thank you to VESR, the Visitor Economy, Services and Retail group, who organised the weekend, along with its partners and private sector sponsors. The bar was set high for a first event, but the organisers are already planning to surpass it in future years, and I know Grimsby residents and visitors eagerly await next year’s Viking Festival.
“Turning now to the crucial area of Children’s Services, we continue to work with Lincolnshire County Council, our Commissioner, and our Improvement Board to progress with our Improvement Plan. Like most authorities up and down the country, we struggle to recruit permanent social workers. Nationally, there is a shortage of about 6500 so, in common with other councils, we rely heavily on agency workers. This is very expensive and results in greater instability in the working relationships with vulnerable children and their families.
“I want to pay tribute to the fantastic work of all our social workers, but particularly our loyal permanent staff. You may have seen that we are recruiting 33 permanent, qualified social workers from South Africa. They will be arriving in October and November, and we look forward to warmly welcoming them. Other councils have been successful with similar recruitment exercises.
“In addition, we have 14 newly qualified ‘home-grown’ permanent social workers starting this month. Taken together, our social worker staffing will improve from about two-thirds agency to two-thirds permanent, helping us provide improved services to children and their families. We are also actively working to safely reduce the number of looked after children and to provide local facilities to bring more out-of-area children back into North East Lincolnshire.
“Still with children and young people, our youth justice services in North East Lincolnshire have been rated as ‘good’ in an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation. The services, managed by North East Lincolnshire Council’s children’s services, underwent a thorough inspection in May this year and the report has been published. In the report, inspectors praised managers and staff for being ‘dedicated and motivated to achieve the best outcomes for children, families, and victims.’ This outcome is testament to the hard work and commitment of Council staff and our partners.
“Continuing the focus on children, irresponsible parking near school gates at pick-up and drop-off times is a longstanding problem for a number of schools in North East Lincolnshire. As an administration, we have listened and acted. We have commenced a programme of installing CCTV cameras and Traffic Regulation Orders to stop illegal parking or stopping around our schools.
“On Hardy’s Road, near Signhills School in Cleethorpes, in just seven days, six drivers have been caught for parking illegally or stopping in the ‘keep clear’ markings to drop off children. We have installed these cameras to keep children safe. It has been clear for a long time that schools are regularly pleading for parents and carers to be responsible when dropping off and picking up their children and residents and school staff are very positive about this initiative.
“We have commenced the review and update of the Local Plan, the document which sets out how the borough will develop over the next 20 years. It provides the planning framework for development of the borough, setting out land for specific uses including housing, employment and retail as well as covering issues such as the environment, and access to education and healthcare. Importantly, it sets the basis for decisions on planning applications – achieving a blueprint to develop a borough where people will enjoy living and working.
“Between September 26 and November 4, informal public engagement on the Local Plan review is being held. Individuals, groups, and businesses around the borough will have the opportunity to comment on the Local Plan, so the council can hear their views and ideas. Drop-in sessions will also be held to give people the opportunity to speak with officers about the Local Plan and then post their feedback.
“The revised Local Plan will need to go through several rounds of engagement during its preparation and once all appropriate revisions are made, it will be submitted to the Government for formal examination. I am looking forward to extensive public engagement with the review process, especially with the controversy the current Local Plan has created over the past year.
“An update now on the Ukrainian refugee situation in North East Lincolnshire. We continue to welcome new arrivals and support existing refugees and their hosts with no issues to report. There are 48 sponsored properties; 68 guests have arrived at 36 properties; two guests are arriving imminently; there are 14 guests with no estimated time of arrival; and three guests have left two properties and the area. The Ukrainian flag continues to fly over the Town Hall and will do for the foreseeable future.
“As a listening council, we held another successful Cabinet Listening event, this time in the Central Hall on the East Marsh. We believe it’s important to host these around the borough so that we are accessible. We talked to many residents and community groups from the East Marsh area, and from across the wider borough, with good ideas and suggestions coming forward.”
PLANS for Freshney Place to become a town centre venue for leisure, eating out, cinema, and shopping have been discussed with residents at the first of three public sessions.
As residents are encouraged to attend the other two open events this week, North East Lincolnshire Council has stated its intention to work with partners and private business owners to ensure empty town centre buildings are brought back into use.
Such buildings would include, as a prime example, the former House of Fraser privately-owned premises, which has been empty since the department store closed in 2019. Not part of the Freshney Place complex, North East Lincolnshire Council purchased the centre knowing that the 64,000 sq ft site was likely to remain empty in the immediate future. It is planned that a positive use for it will come forward as talks are held on the future of Freshney Place and the town centre, which focus on an eclectic mix of facilities and attractions for public use.
Scores of people visited Freshney Place between 10am and 3pm on Monday. They met professionals leading the Market Hall & Leisure Scheme who were at the unit – Market Square, 1-3 Friargate, (located in front of the Starbucks, facing the Top Town Market internal entrance) to look over design boards detailing the planned transformation of the centre’s western end. The unit will be open and staffed again tomorrow (Thursday) and Saturday, 13 and 15 October from 10am until 3pm.
The main issues highlighted by visitors included the leisure use of the area, parking once the improvements have been made, and the design, look and feel of the planned new buildings.
As reported, three weeks of public consultation started on Monday 26 September with people invited to either visit the Freshney Place unit or to join in online at www.freshneyplace.co.uk/markethallandleisuredevelopment-external site. – external siteThe consultation ends on Sunday 16 October.
The council has won significant grant monies for the transformation of the western end of Freshney Place, which it bought during the summer. The proposed leisure development will house a new cinema, with local and regional operator Parkway Entertainment Group coming in as an anchor tenant and pledging to provide a great venue to complement its offer in Cleethorpes.
It will also feature a remodelled entrance to the centre, which will be lined with units for leisure and eateries, and an entrance to a new and transformed Market Hall.
Encouraging people to visit the consultation events and give their views, Council leader, Cllr Philip Jackson, who also heads up the regeneration portfolio, said: “In buying the centre we have sent out a clear signal that we want to be a catalyst for change across the whole of the town centre, and we were certainly aware of the uncertain future of some of our empty buildings, including the large and vacant space that was House of Fraser.
“We want to influence what we can directly as soon as possible, making sure the land and buildings that we own are developed. But we want and need private landlords and businesses to come along with us. To that end, we are and will be working with partners to examine opportunities. These include looking at different ways of using empty space, which are alternatives to retail – reflecting the changing face of our town centres,” he added.
Just this month the council launched a new project aiming to improve the town centre street scene. Focused on the Victoria Street West pedestrian precinct and surrounding streets, officers are encouraging owners of a relatively small number of street-facing properties to make improvements. They are writing to the owners of properties and advising them on the works needed to bring their buildings to an acceptable standard.
Article and images from NELC.
FRESHNEY Place plays host to three public events next week, during which people can talk to planning and design experts about the transformation of the western end of the centre.Read More