Whitby Town Deal
In November 2019, the Ministry of Homes, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced that Whitby had been identified as one of 101 towns in England that they wish to work with to develop Town Investment Plans (TIP) and bid for a share of the Government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund. A Town Deal Board for Whitby (appointed by Scarborough Borough Council), made up of representatives from different local organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors, was set up to consider proposals, develop a TIP and ensure that Whitby submit a bid to the Towns Fund by Autumn 2020. This board ran a single consultation at Whitby Coliseum (7th March 2020), as well as taking input via the UK Government MyTown website, for ideas of what to include. On the 3 March 2021, Government announced that Whitby had been successful in securing £17.1m of Town Deal funding in support of delivering its TIP.
Regarding the “consultation process”, the processing of the public input was never made public, and the projects decided on didn’t reflect much of the public input, neither were they open to public scrutiny at any point – the consultation was an up-front ideas gathering stage only. The Town Deal board did not have any significant Whitby resident involvement, with SBC deciding the composition of that group. As a result many of the projects selected (with the exception of the Eastside project, and to a lesser extent the NetZero village) do not reflect the prioritisation of the towns residents nor are many of them benefitting residents (and since Town Deal was supposed to be “levelling up”, one would be forgiven for thinking that was what should have happened).
UK Government advice says “ensuring communities’ voices are involved in shaping design and decision making at each phase of development”. Also “Engagement with local communities is a vital part of the Town Deal process, and this remains the case as projects move into delivery”.
Additional “implementation” consultation that has taken place regarding the chosen projects is as follows
- Sept 2021 Consultation on the closure to traffic of the Swing Bridge (NYCC).
- Oct 2021 Consultation on Wayfinding “signage” (SBC)
- June 2022 Consultation on the project for redevelopment of the Market Place (Town Deal Board, SBC, Whitby Civic, etc).
- [If we have missed any “consultation” please advise us, mentioning the dates and where they were advertised]
As can be seen there has been very limited consultation “at each phase of development”. We can conclude that the Town Deal Board have failed on those aspects of their remit.
You can find the selected projects on the following map.
Maritime Training Hub
The Whitby Maritime Training Hub will provide training and certification opportunities for the maritime, marine and offshore renewable industries, to residents of Whitby and wider market. This project addresses a need to develop a better supply of technical abilities to meet the demand in both developing new skills and recertification. Additionally, the Hub will also provide accommodation for maritime businesses and service providers to support economy growth and resilience within the local community. The Aim of this project: “To become a renowned centre of maritime training and enterprise which strengthens and supports the local maritime sector and embodies traditional and 21st century maritime culture”. It is underpinned by the following objectives:
- To support the training requirements of the local industry through certified, technical training and apprenticeships, acting to increase qualification levels amongst the working age population
- To enhance the perception of the maritime and associated industry amongst local people and businesses, generating a more viable sector which becomes more attractive to work in
- To deliver high quality, affordable and flexible commercial space, driving increases in the number of start-ups and/or scaleups and the number of enterprises within the Town Deal Area
- To support high level education and career pathways for local people, delivering higher value in the local area
Business Case Costs
The Financial Case shows that capital costs are affordable within the Towns Fund allocation. The total cost is estimated to be £9,985,000 just under the TF allocation of £10,000,000. This includes 15% contingency and inflation at 14%. Revenue costs and income are considered in the report including the impact on car parking revenue. These are shown to be cost neutral. However it is felt that this needs further work on the revenue case as the scheme progresses.
This would be situated on Endeavour Wharf. A schematic, taken from the business case, is shown below. 4 stories high, and not in keeping with the rest of the harbour. A monstrosity. We also express concern at the state of Endeavour Wharf to provide the stability for a structure of this size, given that in the past the land in this area was not considered sufficiently stable for any significant building.
Clearly this location, being on the harbour, is at significant risk of flooding. We cannot see how this could make it through planning building on a level 3 flood plain. As it is being built on a flood plain then it will require a mandatory Environment Agency consultation (Town and Country Planning Order (England) 2010). The below figure shows the current flood risk. To see the flood risk by 2030 and onwards (taking into account the climate change that we are told will impact the planet), please use this link.
Finally, we would question the overall location from the perspective of best value for money. Whitby secondary schools have significant empty class space, some of which has its own entrance and parking (Caedmon College Sixth Form). Why could these existing spaces not be utilised for something that actually does not need to be next to the river? That would save on building costs. It should also be noted that the proposed wind turbine aspect of this development will not be happening.
Broomfields Farm Zero Carbon Living
A development of 60 new all-affordable homes.
We will deliver a wide range of housing to meet the cross-generational local demand and contribute towards a sustainable community, with property sizes ranging from 1 bedroom to 4 bedroom. Of the 60 new homes, half will be made available for affordable rent and the remainder will be for shared ownership.
A net zero carbon, sustainable development.
The development will be all electric, with homes heated by air-source heat pumps and generating their own renewable energy through photovoltaic solar panels. All homes will be fitted with a range of energy saving components within a very well insulated structure. The homes will be delivered using timber-frame construction technology, delivering advantages in sustainability and speed of development.
The proposal doesn’t just deliver new homes; a community hub, art trail, allotments and sustainable transport infrastructure will ensure that the development offers something for everyone and enables more people to enjoy the unique setting of Broomfield Farm.
Business Case Costs
The business case demonstrates that there is an affordable scheme. The overall scheme costs is £12.6 million with the Towns Fund contribution as £2.6 million. Project match is secured and is made of:
- Project Source Amount Homes England MMC Funding £600,000
- Homes England Affordable Housing Funding £3,100,000
- Sanctuary and MCI/Keepmoat Funding £6,373,720
Eastside Community Hub
Eastside Community Hub will provide a purpose built gym for Whitby Boxing Club and an extension to Eastside Community Centre enabling a greater range of training opportunities and community café. At Abbots Road, Eastside, a contribution from the Town Fund of £823,000 will be used to build a modern new home for Whitby Boxing Club, providing greater opportunities for young people to participant in sport, and an extension and improvements the existing community centre providing a more flexible space for training, activities and community use. Additional funding is being provided to Whitby Boxing Club from Scarborough Borough Council, Sport England and Sirius Foundation. The project to transform community facilities in Whitby has reached a significant milestone with the erection of steelwork to create a new building. The boxing facilities will be open in the autumn. Planning permission has been secured for the Community Centre Extension and work will start in summer 2022 and is expected to be completed by Christmas.
Business Case Costs
The total project cost is £1,150,051. The project seeks to attract £823,051 (822,916) of funding from the Towns Fund which will be matched with a total of £160,000 from Sport England, £117,135 from Scarborough Borough Council (S106 & Capital receipt) and £50,000 from Sirius Minerals foundation. A total match pot of £327,135. ECC has also put forward £20,000 from its own funds to provide the initial cashflow for the project.
We wholeheartedly welcome this development, directly benefitting residents.
Harbourside Public Realm Improvements and Pedestrianisation of Swing Bridge
Creation of a flexible pedestrianised route across the Swingbridge, creating better connections between the East and West sides of Whitby and improved public safety, enabled by improvements to the public realm and physical infrastructure changes to the road network.
The Harbourside Public Realm project will improve the street scene around the Whitby Swingbridge area, allowing the routine closure to road traffic to be implemented more easily and with more permanent signage. This will enhance the centre of the town, improving the visitor experience and promoting additional return visits. The pedestrianisation of this central area will also improve non-motorised links between the east and west sides which links to other projects currently being developed in the town. The scheme will also look at improvements at the junction of Spital Bridge with the A171.
The aims for the Harbourside Public Realm project are as follows:
- Improve pedestrian and cyclist safety on the Swingbridge during times of high tourist activity.
- Improve daytime east-west non-motorised connectivity between the two halves of the town.
- Reduce carbon/carbon-equivalent and pollutants, and improve local air quality
- Improve connections across communities
- Enhance the connection of the networks of interesting spaces to explore and places to linger, and improving knowledge of natural assets
- Enhance the highway network in and around the Swingbridge to improve traffic movements and improve the visitor offer in the centre of the town.
- Provide a public area to continue to develop key visitor attractions.
- Support the tourism economy associated with Whitby.
Business Case Costs
The financial case presents a total project cost for the preferred option of £2.316m, the allocation from the Towns Fund is £2.3m so this presents a slight funding shortfall of £0.016m. The shortfall is not considered significant and will be addressed at RIBA Stage 3.
A high level breakdown of project costs is presented within the financial case with a Bill of Quantities for the construction works attached as an appendix to the business case. All key costs including risk and inflation appear to be accounted for with narrative provided for the assumptions.
Significant additional maintenance costs are not expected and will be the responsibility of NYCC falling under their routine maintenance schedule / budget.
Pedestrianisation of the central part of town makes perfect sense in itself, setting aside the potential impacts on essential services and getting about the town. A separate question is why this does not come out of the NYCC Highways budget itself, and why we have to spend “levelling up” money on a Highways project.
The claimed “benefits” to cycling in this project are a fallacy. This scheme is pedestrianisation, so that would mean that cycling is prohibited, unless it will be adding cycling permitted signs and that is not mentioned in the business case document. The real problems for cycling are not the very centre of town, but on access roads, and the council(s) are not addressing these at all.
The junction at Spital Bridge was even harder to get out of with the trial of this scheme and needs a complete redesign, as we have listed on our Transport page.
It would have been a good opportunity to establish a broader central area for a 20mph zone as part of this project, rather than just New Quay Road, St Annes Staith, Bridge Street, and a small part of Church Street.
The Wayfinding project provides town centre pedestrian signage in both Whitby and Scarborough. This includes a family of signs for visitors to help them navigate around the towns and signpost to key attractions. Also working with the Love Exploring App enables visitors to engage with fun trails and games with various themes.
Business Case Costs
The Commercial Case explains that three procurement exercises are planned for this project:
- Professional services contract to manage the project at a value of £27,298
- Supply and installation of way-marking signs at a value of £164,918
- Development of digital information at a value of £35,000
Procurement will be done in compliance with Scarborough Borough Council procurement rules. In the Financial Case, the analysis was completed by reviewing the capital and revenue implications. It was found that the project can be delivered within the identified funding package.
The signage doesn’t seem to be of particularly sturdy construction that will last for years. For the cost involved, one would have hoped for something longer lasting that offered value for years to come.
Old Town Hall and Marketplace
Revitalisation of the Grade II Listed Old Town Hall building and Market Place in Whitby through renovation and renewal. A toll-booth/town hall and market has been located in the Market Place since the 17th century. After the original toll booth building became decayed and unsuitable, it was demolished and in 1788 the then Lord of the Manor, Nathaniel Cholmley commissioned Jonathan Pickernell of Whitby to design the Old Town Hall as we know today. An outdoor market still takes place within Whitby market place and the undercroft of the old town hall building to this present day. However, the building is in a poor state of repair and the first floor has not been occupied or used since 2017.
This project aims to deliver improvements to Whitby’s Old Town Hall & Market Place, which are Grade II Listed and an iconic part of the town’s heritage. We will repair & restore the building to secure its structural integrity and improve the appearance of this unique heritage asset for Whitby. The available floor space in both the first floor & undercroft will be repurposed to provide year-round community and cultural activities and we will improve the market place area through landscaping. The aims of the project are to:
- Build on the history and heritage of the old town hall building and market place by repairing & restoring the building to secure its structural integrity and improve the appearance of this unique heritage asset for Whitby.
- Restore the old town hall building a key focal point for Whitby through refurbishment and repurposing the building for community use, creating 112sqm of floorspace to ensure the building is sustainable and income-generating in the long term.
- Create a vibrant and bustling year round market place, with 81sqm of improved quality of public realm and improved facilities for market traders, driving an increase in footfall and dwell times.
Business Case Costs
The total cost of the preferred scheme is £1.504m. A National Heritage Lottery Fund grant would need to be secured to deliver this. However, the business case also demonstrates that there is an alternative affordable scheme (no glazing) which will still deliver the outputs for the Towns Fund at a similar BCR of 2.33. There is also the possibility to value engineer the public realm landscaping proposals to provide an alternative way to improve this area and still provide facilities for the traders. Please note that an Architectural Development Grant of £15,000 was provided to produce the architectural designs from BFF Architects.
Based on the estimated recurring operating costs (£56,170 after the first year of operation), and estimated revenue generation (£92,876), it is anticipated that there would be a surplus of £36,706 to enable the development to be self-sufficient and provide sustainability. Further work will need to be carried out on the revenue implications of the scheme to confirm the operating model.