Exciting and ambitious plans to enhance and improve St Ives for the future have taken a major step forward with the confirmation of the Town Deal projects which will be submitted to the government for final approval later this summer.
Last year the St Ives Town Deal Board successfully bid for a Town Deal worth £19.9 million from the Government’s Town Fund Scheme. This was based on a Town Investment Plan (TIP) which identified a mix of large-scale transformation projects together with a number of smaller-scale community projects aimed at delivering the vision and aims developed in consultation with the local community.
The Town Investment Plan is focused on three key themes:
- An integrated, low-carbon, transport system
- New skills, businesses, jobs and supply chains
- New and transformed housing and community assets
During the past 12 months, the organisations behind the shortlisted projects in the TIP have been working on demonstrating the feasibility of their project through the development of business cases. This prerequisite to unlocking any Towns Fund investment includes setting out in detail the cost, scope and delivery mechanism of each project, as well as outlining key milestones and construction dates.
Options for the final programme were discussed at a special meeting of the Town Deal Board where members considered the viability of each project and the likelihood of securing any additional funding required, together with its potential for successfully delivering the vision and aims set out in the Town Investment Plan.
It was decided that, due to the pressures brought by the steep escalation of costs in the construction sector, and the ongoing level of risk associated with some of the match funding, nine of the projects initially listed in the Town Investment Plan were in a position to be taken forward.
The funding allocated to projects which have not been included in the final programme (Palais de Danse, Bay to Bay cycle scheme and the Vertical Farming Project) will be re-allocated to provide additional support for some of the remaining projects. These will include the Guildhall, Leach Pottery, affordable housing and low carbon transport hub projects.
The board also unanimously supported that a part of the funding remains allocated to the development of digital skills, which was a core part of one of the projects not being progressed, to ensure that the strategic vision for the Town Investment Plan remains unchanged.
“This is such an important step forward that brings St Ives a step closer from unlocking the government’s Towns Fund investment,” said Karen Fielding, community sector representative on the Town Deal Board. “We would like to thank all of the projects leads for providing such thorough business cases in a very limited and financially complex environment.
“Our original bid was designed to deliver three key objectives:
- Generate inclusive green growth and new enterprise, within a year-round economy
- Support the health, well-being and aspiration of all residents in life and work
- Create opportunities for young people which allow them to flourish
“Delivering these projects will enable us to deliver our vision to level up our economy, bring opportunities for everyone who lives and works here, and provide quality employment and real aspiration for all in an environmentally sustainable way.”
The nine projects being taken forward are:
- Low Carbon Transport
- Rugby Club / Affordable Housing
- Old Vicarage Flats
- LiveWest retrofit scheme
- Delegated Fund for Renewal
- St Ives Theatre
- Leach Pottery and Digital Trail
- St Ives Community Orchard
Cllr Louis Gardner, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for economy, said: “We fought hard to secure one of the biggest settlements in the country when the Town Deals were announced last year, and I am delighted to see that work now beginning to come to fruition.
“I know how much effort has been put into the Town Investment Plan, and it is gratifying to see it reflect Cornwall Council’s overarching objective, to work with communities for a carbon-neutral Cornwall, where everyone can start well, live well and age well.
“This is good news for St Ives and the surrounding area, and I look forward to seeing the plans approved and work started.”
“St Ives Town Deal is now at a critical stage – we have a clear set of projects to support the transformation of St Ives, based on green growth and a year-round economy,” said Derek Thomas, MP for Ives, West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and a member of the St Ives Town Deal Board. “It’s been an honour to work with the Town Board to develop the programme, and I’d like to thank everyone who has devoted their time and energy to renewing the town we love. The Town Deal process has helped us to identify what can be done now with this cash and how we move forward to deliver further transformation and secure further investment.”
“The government’s Towns Fund was set up to drive the sustainable economic regeneration of our towns – and the projects in this programme will grow our economy, create skilled jobs for residents and opportunities for young people, and support the town of St Ives to thrive for the future.”
The business cases for the nine projects will now be subjected to a rigorous assurance process led by Cornwall Council before the programme is sent to the government for final approval.
The government is expected to give funding confirmation this Autumn, paving the way for a detailed programme of works and timescales to be developed by early April 2023.
All the Town Deal funding must be spent by the end of March 2026.
While the smaller scale projects will be completed early in the programme, the larger-scale transformation projects, which are more complex and may require additional external funding, will take longer to deliver. However, all are expected to be completed by the end of the Town Deal programme in 2026.