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Agenda item

Gungate Update

(Report of the Chief Executive)


The Committee received the report of the Chief Executive which provided an update to the Committee on the progress on the Gungate Masterplan programme.


The Chair welcomed the Portfolio Holder for Growth and Regeneration, the Chief Executive and the Assistant Director, Growth and Regeneration to the meeting.


The Chief Executive reported that the council had purchased the precinct site a few years ago as an investment opportunity with regeneration potential.  The basis of the council purchasing the site was the regeneration opportunity in that part of town.  The Chief Executive reported that Cabinet had approved a preferred draft masterplan and authorised the Chief Executive and his team to enter into discussions and prepare and submit funding applications.  In addition consultants were appointed who have produced a preferred option.  The masterplan had identified various sites which were suitable for different uses, however, the overall plan had retained flexibility to ensure that opportunities could be maximised as it was reported that one criteria for the council was to ensure that the project delivered an appropriate return on the council’s investment.


The Chief Executive reported that discussions with Staffordshire County Council, who own a site adjacent to council owned property, had been positive and the council has had discussions with other landowners on the site and whilst discussions with some landowners were underway discussions with one landowner had not progressed as well, such that other methods were being considered, including the consideration of the use of a compulsory purchase order. 


The Chief Executive reported that the master planning process needed to be considered by scrutiny and then Cabinet and then proceed to public consultation. In terms of timing, consultation on the Gungate Masterplan was not expected to commence until after the May elections. 


The Chief Executive reported that the key issues for the Council were timing in terms of land assembly and the viability of the project, in terms of achieving necessary funding.


The Committee sought and received clarification in the following areas:


·         the facilitation of electric vehicle charging in any new multi-storey car park, the principle of which the Chief Executive supported.

·         the interaction between the Gungate project and the Future High Street Fund project.  The Chief Executive reported that there was no overlap between these two projects and that the Gungate project was a stand-alone scheme, however the Gungate scheme would demonstrate the Council’s commitment to Tamworth’s high street and show that interventions were being planned in Gungate which would help support the growth of the town. The Assistant Director reported that the two schemes complement one another and whilst the rules for the development of the business case for the Future High Street fund application were strict, the costs and benefits being delivered by the Gungate scheme could be reported as part of the Future High Street Fund project.  The Portfolio Holder reminded members that the Future High Street Fund was a competitive process with other local authorities and the Gungate project helped to make Tamworth’s application more competitive.

·         whether Officers had seen any evidence of the easing of the Green Book rules in their application to this project which the Prime Minister had recently announced.  The Assistant Director reported that it was not expected that there would be any changes before the submission of the outline submission in mid March 2020, but it was possible that there could be changes prior to the final submission to Government.

·         the potential timing and cost implications involved with any potential legal process to fully assemble the land.  It was reported that the project was planned to be developed in a staged process which would allow some flexibility.

·         the engagement process with all councillors.  The Portfolio Holder and the Chief Executive recognised the importance for all councillors to be involved in this major undertaking. It was agreed that a seminar involving all members (anticipated May 2020) would be held prior to Cabinet to provide an opportunity to view and comment on proposals.  The members seminar would be followed by consideration at a scrutiny committee (anticipated June 2020) where recommendations to Cabinet could be proposed.  Following any Cabinet approval the Masterplan would be issued for public consultation.


The Portfolio Holder for Heritage and Growth, the Chief Executive, the Assistant Director, Growth and Regeneration and Councillor R Ford left the meeting.


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