We have sent a letter to the Whitby Town Deal Board regarding significant concerns that we and many Whitby residents have over the remaining projects yet to be delivered for the Town Deal project. Any reply will be added to this page.
To: Mr Barry Harland (Town Deal Board chair)
Cc: Rt. Hon. Robert Goodwill MP (MP for the Scarborough and Whitby constituency), Richard Flinton (Chief Executive, North Yorkshire Council), WTD Board members
Dear Mr Harland,
Outstanding Whitby Town Deal Projects
I write to you as the Chairman of the Whitby Town Deal Board.
I chair the Whitby Community Network (WCN) which is an issues-based group keen to see a sustainable and buoyant future for this historic coastal town. WCN wishes to highlight some significant issues with the remaining outstanding Town Deal Projects, which do not appear to have been addressed and are of considerable concern to those residents of Whitby who happen to know about them. Most of the projects also appear to fail to address Objective 7 “Provide opportunities to live lighter in our environment” and are particularly concerning because of the increased risk of flooding and flash flooding now being experienced, the latest incident being on 5th August 2023 with Storm Antoni. The projects in question are Whitby Maritime Training Hub, Whitby Broomfields Farm Zero Carbon Living, Whitby Old Town Hall and Market Place, & Whitby Harbourside Public Realm Improvements and Pedestrianisation of Whitby Swingbridge.
Maritime Training Hub
On the subject of the proposed Maritime Hub, many residents have no awareness of what this will mean for the town, what it will look like and what the impact will be on the historic harbour area. In addition, the proposal is to build this significantly challenging engineering project, on a level 3 flood plain, on land which is currently the subject of an ongoing legal dispute regarding ownership. Further, the training facility the development claims it will create would only replace a facility which is already provided in the town and does not represent growth. As time goes on, it looks increasingly likely this will become a white elephant of un-needed office space, rather than the intended maritime development, which could alternatively be accommodated in vacated school premises in the town. The recent legal changes allowing up to 30% adaptation to Town Deal plans to be decided locally, mean that North Yorkshire Council could amend the plans to develop the Maritime Hub. Surely it cannot be right that the Council should proceed with the plans on land which is the subject of an ongoing legal dispute regarding ownership, especially as said Council is a protagonist in the dispute. We note Todmorden put forward a proposal to change its original Town Deal programme, an alternative town centre-based site for the proposed Enterprise Centre was considered due to increased flood risk, and subsequently agreed by Calderdale Council.
Whitby Old Town Hall
The proposed changes to the historic Town Hall provide an example of a flawed consultation exercise, in that it disproportionately included tourists and visitors and excluded residents. As a minimum, this needs to be repeated to truly consult with those who live and work in Whitby. Clearly, tourism is now a key industry in a town such as this and it is vital that residents are not overlooked in key decisions.
It appears that the identified Developer has withdrawn from the Eco-Village development and this much-needed project has stalled and as concerned residents we have not been informed how this will now be taken forward.
Whitby Harbourside Public Realm Improvements
The lack of consultation with residents and businesses with regard to the Whitby Harbourside public realm improvements and pedestrianisation of Whitby Swingbridge is another flawed consultation exercise. The lack of vision for this conservation harbourside area in a major tourist destination is extremely disappointing. This area could form an attractive harbourside “park” which would appeal to visitors and locals alike. Whitby lacks public open space, but the great central sweep of the harbour somewhat compensates, it is the heart of the town and an integral part of everyone’s daily life and therefore needs to be treated with respect and an understanding of the Town’s heritage.
On behalf of WCN, I therefore request that these plans are reviewed by the Whitby Town Deal Board and NYC, with a view to making a “Project Adjustment Request”, to ensure that local interests are front and centre of these proposed changes and that they ensure a sustainable future for Whitby residents and for future generations.
Please also note the brief attachment which includes additional details relating to the above projects.
Thank you for your assistance in this important matter,
Whitby Community Network chair
Attached: Issues/Suggestions for the four remaining projects
Whitby Town Deal Projects – WCN Comments September 2023
Whitby Maritime Training Hub
- Cost of Development likely to exceed the budget (cost of material increases)
- No proven need for offices/maritime training
- Located on a Level 3 Floodplain
- Land subject to Court Case
- Located in a key Conservation Area
Suggest 30% adaptation to Town Deal project to:
- Re-use existing secondary school, possible Caedmon – Normanby site, provide Skills & Training Academy for sixth form, maritime, green economy (this leaves other secondary schools with suitable sports field provision)
- Include possible start-up units and local housing on site
- Improve (16 – Adult) education & skills training for area
- Reduce carbon emissions and eliminate unnecessary waste (save requirement for new building/save training travel costs)
Whitby Broomfields Farm Zero Carbon Living
- Lack of progress for a development which is urgently needed
- Land not adjacent to sports fields (3g & football pitch)to link to Community Hub
- Reallocation of the £2.6m must not be transferred to another project – this funding is vital for providing additional affordable homes for local people
- Community Led Homes scheme progressed by local group to ensure truly affordable in perpetuity homes
- Build Terrace houses & apartments to keep costs down
- Review flood risk in this area following flash flooding on the 5th August 2023 with Storm Antoni – see attached photo
Whitby Old Town Hall and Market Place
- Devastating impact on its character and appearance and setting of neighbouring domestic scale buildings and the Old Town Hall.
- Elevated plinth with furniture adds to visual out-of-scale dominance harmful to the historic street scene, nor does not follow the topography sloping down towards the river.
- Affects parking for emergency & RNLI vehicles
- Affects drainage on Level 3 flood plain
- Increase carbon emissions by installing concrete plinth
- Repair and refurbishment works very welcome
- Divert money to retro-fitting and improving the energy efficiency of this historic building
- Provide temporary removable plinth that can be slotted in place when required
- Review flash flooding/Level 3 flood plain issue
Whitby Harbourside public realm improvements and pedestrianisation of Whitby Swingbridge (partial closure of Whitby Swing Bridge to general traffic every day between May and October)
- Lack of public consultation is a major concern.The proposed public realm enhancements and junction works are difficult to comment on as no public information found to date.
- Money for this project must not be given to another project
- Further detail on what this project covers and a full public consultation urgently needed
- Rationalisation and improved signage needed
- Healthy and accessible streets survey required
- Review flooding issue on Level 3 flood plain
Barry Harland, Town Deal Board chair, replied thanking us for our input and that the items raised will be discussed at the next Town Deal Board meeting.