The Panel are to receive the Future High Streets Fund Draft Business Plan.
Contact:C Kerr 01480 388430
With the aid of a report by the Service Manager – Growth (a copy of which has been appended in the Minute Book) the Future High Streets Fund Draft Business Plan was presented to the Panel.
In introducing the Business Plan, the Executive Councillor for Housing and Economic Development informed the Panel that the Council were looking to submit the Business Plan to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by 15th March 2020 and that the accompanying report listed the proposed interventions outlined in the Business Plan. In addition, Members were informed that the Services Manager – Growth attended a meeting at St Neots to present the Business Plan.
Councillor Chapman opened his remarks by praising the what the Officers and the Executive Councillor had done and stated that the Business Plan offered St Neots an opportunity to revitalise the town centre, although there were still challenges (e.g. congestion and shops closing) and the Councillor was disappointed that the proposed bridge scheme had been cancelled. Councillor Chapman added that if the housing developments in St Neots were to be successful then the town needed to be an attractive place for people and seek to serve their basic needs. In response the Executive Councillor stated that although there were challenges, St Neots was a town that had potential and that the Business Plan sought to repurpose the town centre. In regard to the bridge scheme, the issue was that the benefit to cost ratio fell below the acceptable limit, which was disappointing as £1m had been spent on developing plans.
Councillor Gulson commented that in regard to losing the bridge scheme, there appeared to be proposals contained within the Business Plan that mitigated for that.
As the Chairman of the St Neots Masterplan for Growth Steering Group, Councillor Wells addressed the Panel and stated that the Business Plans were a good piece of work and that they sought to build on the location of St Neots.
The Executive Councillor was asked by Councillor Gaskin for thoughts on options that were considered but not proceeded with such as the Little Paxton bridge. In response the Executive Councillor stated that the Little Paxton bridge was outside the area in terms of the Business Plan, however other groups were considering the idea. In addition the Panel was informed that the theory behind the idea of placing car parks on the edge of the town centre was to encourage people to stop their car journey on the outside of the town centre and therefore have a better experience inside the town centre.
Market Place pedestrianisation was raised and the Executive Councillor stated that pedestrianisation of the Market Place would be good for the town centre, however it was challenging as there would be local resistance.
A Member commented that the Business Plan was good piece of work which aimed to attract additional footfall or retain existing footfall.
Councillor Morris addressed plans for pedestrian and cyclist access on the bridge into the town centre and suggested that there should be more segregation between the two as it reduced the potential for conflict. In response, Members were informed that, the type of detail requested would come at a later stage when the plan entered the next phase.
that the Council should submit the Business Plan to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by 15th March 2020 be endorsed.