To consider a report providing an update on progress and seeking approval to implement the Regeneration Programme projects which have been awarded funding via the Levelling Up Fund and Towns Fund.
Cabinet Portfolio: Jobs and the Local Economy
Strategic Directorate: Regeneration and Environment Services
Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet Meeting to be held on 16 May 2022. It provided an update on progress and sought approval to implement the Regeneration Programme projects which have been awarded funding via the Levelling Up Fund and Towns Fund. A full list and summary of the projects was appended to the report.
The Town Deal was a £3.6bn programme seeking to ‘unleash the economic potential of 100 places across the country. In January 2021 Rotherham submitted a Town Investment Plan seeking £35m for projects across Templeborough, Eastwood and the Town Centre. In June 2021, Heads of Terms were received offering £31.6m. Stage 2 of the Town Deal process required a local assurance process for each project culminating in the submission of ‘Project Summary’ documentation to Department for Levelling-Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) by 27 June 2022.
The opportunity to bid to Round 1 of the Levelling Up Fund (LUF) was announced in March 2021. In June 2021 the Council submitted three bids seeking investment to support projects in the Leisure Economy, Principal Areas for Growth and Rotherham Town Centre. An announcement was made in October 2021 that Rotherham had successfully secured funding for two of the three submitted bids for the Leisure Economy (£19.5m) and Rotherham Town Centre (£20m) totalling £39.5m. In February 2022, Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were signed between the Council and DLUHC for each of the two successful Round 1 bids, setting out the terms, principles and practices that will apply regarding the administration and delivery of the
A second round of funding was announced on 23 March 2022. The Council intended to re-submit a bid proposal for Wath and Dinnington Town Centres to this fund with a deadline of 6 July 2022.
Given the significant amount of funding involved it was requested that progress of the Town Deal and Levelling Up fund be added to the Risk Register to be considered by the Audit Committee.
Confirmation was received that the projects listed were on track for their anticipated completion dates.
The consultation regarding the ‘Transforming Cities Infrastructure’ relates to the transforming cities fund which is not directly linked to the report although the long-term strategic plan in and around the town centre looks at the wider strategy and objectives for the town centre and how those work. The consultation results associated with this were being assessed and would be responded to in due course.
The funding was welcomed but were the changes proposed for the town centre right for the current climate and environment or should they have been made previously. It was confirmed that the changes were part of the masterplan created in conjunction with the business sector and community. The Strategic Director Regeneration and Environment explained the Council received one of the largest Town Deals in the country along with two of the three bids for the Levelling Up Fund. In terms of the ambitions, a substantial amount was for other areas across the borough.
It was felt that the borough lacked single occupancy accessible flats/houses within the town centre therefore it was queried if the housing planned for the town centre was correct, with the right mix of properties for the community. It was confirmed that the residential element of the town centre had been considered including how to encourage a diverse range of young and old and those with different needs.
It was queried what communication had been carried out with the sider stakeholders to inform them of what bids had been submitted. The Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment explained that they had been liaising with local ward Members which would then be developed into proposals however a lot of work had been carried out previously to maximise the opportunity.
It was asked if external feedback had been sought regarding why some of the bids were not successful in round 1 and had officers reflected upon why those bids had not succeeded. It was confirmed that feedback was received from officials within government for the 1 bid that hadn’t been successful and it was due to be considered by Cabinet in June.
Clarification was sought on what democratic oversight there was of the Town Deal Board who retain oversight of this project, who do they provide updates to. The Town Deal Board was put in place as part of the government’s requirements for this fund. The Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy sits on the Board along with the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment with the minutes of meetings being available to members of the public. It was clarified that the Council delivered the projects through its structures and assurance framework.
1. That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.
2. That progress of the Town Deal and Levelling Up fund be added to the Risk Register.