Glastonbury Town Deal projects proceed to government for final sign-off
The completed Business Cases for ten of the Glastonbury Town Deal projects were approved for submission to the Government at a Mendip District Council Cabinet meeting last night (20th June 2022), bringing this once-in-a-generation investment for Glastonbury within touching distance.
This was the final step of a rigorous, five-part internal assurance process, paving the way for the detailed HM Treasury 'Green Book' Business Cases to proceed for review and sign-off by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) which is funding the investment.
Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke, said: "Economic growth has never been more important, especially as we are recovering from a pandemic and experiencing a cost of living crisis.
"All the people involved in the Town Deal know they have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here. And because this is Glastonbury, as you'd expect, community consultation has been at the heart of it all.
"These projects are innovative, and consider the environment, and how we live and work. A community benefit society is being set up to receive income from the bigger projects, to help the smaller ones thrive - future-proofing the whole approach."
Cllr Wyke added: "I am so excited by the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the whole community, the dedication of the Town Deal Board, and to all those involved in the projects for working tirelessly and imaginatively throughout. And I am extremely proud of the way Mendip District Council's committed officers have worked to enable this Government investment to come to life, in this special place."
The Town Deal projects that were approved for submission to Government by Mendip District Council at last night's meeting (20th June 2022) are:
- Regeneration of the historic Baily's Buildings
- Repurposing two historic buildings into a sustainable hub for local start-up, small and growing businesses and to deliver employment opportunities. The complex will also house a small, dedicated museum celebrating the town's industrial heritage and be used by educational groups and the community.
- Establishment of the Glastonbury Enterprise and Innovation Hub
- Re-developing Beckery House into a dedicated centre for the town's vibrant business community. The aim is to help meet demand for affordable flexible managed workspaces and provide support for grow-on businesses, particularly the food and manufacturing sectors.
- Regeneration of Building C to establish The Life Factory
- Regenerating an iconic building to create a vibrant, shared community resource for all - but particularly young people. It will be an inspiring place to make, create and grow as a community with zones for skills development, arts & craft makers and activities, youth, media, broadcasting and hospitality.
- Glastonbury Clean Energy
- Investing in renewable energy generation and low carbon transport infrastructure. This project will be delivered in collaboration with Beckery Village businesses, community organisations and landowners.
- St Brigid's Chapel and Field
- Creating a gateway to the understanding of the Pagan and Christian histories of the town. This new, year-round, educational visitor destination, will protect, interpret and make accessible the rich heritage and natural environment of some 33 acres.
- Glastonbury Food and Regenerative Farming Centre
- A community-led, educational research centre to demonstrate natural methods for growing food, land management and to promote a holistic approach to wellbeing for land, human and animal symbiosis. It will be a place for all age groups to grow together, whilst skill sharing, immersed in nature.
- An Enabling Project
- In order to renovate the buildings within the Beckery Village, there are enabling works that are crucial for the whole regeneration of Glastonbury. The purpose of this project is to sustainably improve the situation for the non-bricks and mortar communities.
- St Dunstan's Community Health and Wellbeing Centre
- The new health and wellbeing centre will be created in St Dunstan's House next to the Town Hall. It will provide Covid-safe spaces for the community where people and groups can take part in activities and gatherings, access health services, and seek business and employment advice.
- Glastonbury Abbey Piazza
- This project will enhance the visitor approach and welcome to the Abbey. It includes upgraded facilities, retail and reception areas. The creation of a new public space for the town will improve connectivity with the town centre, benefitting the local economy.
- Glastonbury Community Sports and Leisure Hub
- Revitalising a tired facility into a modern multi-use sports and leisure hub in the heart of the town. The aim is to meet the needs and expectations of users by offering opportunities for sports, training, education, health & wellbeing support, and a place for people of all ages to meet and socialise.
One additional Town Deal project, the Robert Richards Initiative, has been granted an extension to the end of August 2022. The specifics of the project were changed as a result of the Business Case process, although the objectives and outcomes remain the same. Originally called the Glastonbury Environment Centre, the project was renamed in memory of the late Chair of the Glastonbury Town Deal Board, Robert Richards, and aims to be a catalyst for sustainability, a green economy and climate change mitigation. Further details about this project will be published in due course.
Following the receipt of a detailed Feasibility Study and extensive discussions at the Glastonbury Town Deal Board meetings in April and May 2022, the decision was taken to remove the Transport and Travel project from the Glastonbury Town Deal plans.
Outlining the reason for this decision, Julie Reader-Sullivan, Head of Service for Planning and Growth at Mendip District Council and leader of the Support Team for the Glastonbury Town Deal, said: "Unfortunately, the Feasibility Study demonstrated that this project did not meet the test for a viable Town Deal project, requiring it to have greater benefits than costs. Significant ongoing revenue funding would have been necessary, plus other actions to incentivise people to use the Park and Ride service rather than driving into the town centre. As a result, it was not viable to proceed with the Transport and Travel project under the Town Deal initiative.
"That said, a Park and Ride facility does remain an aspiration for the town and this will be considered by the Glastonbury Town Deal Legacy Body in the future. For instance, it could become part of a broader tourism offering for the area incorporating Glastonbury, Wells and Cheddar, which would benefit many local residents as well as encouraging more tourists into Glastonbury.
"In the meantime, signage around the town will be reviewed in order to encourage more people to walk or cycle into the centre, while the use of Herbies Field provides extra car parking spaces for larger events. Further surveys will be undertaken to identify additional eco options for reducing carbon emissions in Glastonbury. Other Town Deal projects such as the Robert Richards Initiative should also provide additional multi-user paths and an e-bike facility for the town.
"While we appreciate that this is disappointing, we must not let it overshadow the fantastic job that has been done to get ten projects through this comprehensive process, with an eleventh soon to follow. It is an enormous achievement and a testament to the hard work of the project teams, board members and everyone involved that we've been able to progress almost all of the projects to this stage."
Ms Reader-Sullivan confirmed that the Town Deal support team has been in contact with DLUHC to request whether the funding originally allocated for the Transport and Travel project could be distributed across the other Glastonbury Town Deal projects, to help offset significant increases in building material, energy and inflation costs. A formal response has not yet been received but she said they are hopeful that they will be permitted to retain the full £23.6m investment pledged for Glastonbury.
Glastonbury is one of 101 towns chosen to receive investment through the government's Towns Fund scheme as part of its Levelling Up agenda. Set to bring £23.6m into the town, it received the highest award in the South West and one of the highest per capita in England.
The Business Cases for the ten projects will now be submitted to central government, with funds being released on a project-by-project basis as and when they are approved. It is anticipated that this funding will start to filter through by the autumn of this year.
The Glastonbury Town Deal projects aim to deliver a necessary 'levelling up' opportunity for the town, bringing existing assets back into community use, and working with local communities to develop the spaces and resources they want and need. The vision is for Glastonbury to be a sustainable, prosperous, modern town and global tourist centre, drawing on its rural landscape, history and unique legacy.
For further information, visit glastonburytowndeal.co.uk