News & Events
The Civic Society made representations to RVBC policy and finance committee with regards to proposals for the market development.
At the policy and finance committee meeting on Tuesday 22nd January it was agreed to terminate the contract with Barnfield Construction to redevelop the market opting instead to apply for government funding under the Future High Street funds.
The letter from the Civic Society to the committee
In the context of Agenda Item No5, to be considered by the Policy & Finance Committee Meeting on 22nd January, you are requested to consider the following comments presented on behalf of Clitheroe Civic Society.
The report which accompanies this Agenda Item recognises that, due to lack of public and local commercial support for the redevelopment of the Clitheroe Market Quarter, the current project has stalled. The report prepared by the Director of Economic Development and Planning is welcomed by our Society as a review of the two principle options which are open to the Council to enable it to move on from this position. We note that members are required to:
7.1 Decide which of the following options would meet Members aspirations for Clitheroe Town Centre:
7.1.1 Continue working with Barnfield Construction on the market site as the identified preferred bidder based upon the original procurement exercise.
7.1.2 Terminate the original procurement exercise and work up an expression of interest for the Future High Streets Fund.
It is our view that option 7.1.1 should be rejected for the following reasons:
The project information set out in the Clitheroe Town Centre - Market Redevelopment Area Marketing Prospectus OCTOBER 2014 – REV7’ which resulted in the ‘Barnfield proposal’ was: imprecise, left too much interpretation to tenderers and – inevitably - complicated comparison of proposals and tenders. The tender response base from which this scheme was selected was critically limited.
The ‘Barnfield proposal’ has had little, or no, public or local commercial support. Clearly it is not regarded by these key stakeholders - and many Councillors - as being ‘in the context of what is appropriate to for the wider Town Centre’.
The current ‘Barnfield proposal’ substantially modifies the competitive tender brief as set out in the ‘Marketing Prospectus OCTOBER 2014 – REV7’. To continue with this scheme - as identified by your Director - could put the Council at risk of being considered to have ‘distorted the conditions of competitive tender procedures’ as set out in OJEU procurement process framework.
Termination of the original procurement exercise will enable the Council to pursue this once in a generation option to obtain significant funding from the recently announced Future High Streets Fund.
It is our view that option 7.1.2 should be supported and adopted for the following reasons:
“Clitheroe is a townscape pleasure. It has few putting-off buildings, it has changes of level and it has streets with bends. The Castle stands on one hill, South, and the Church on the other, North. Pendle Hill lies on the skyline to the East” states Sir Nicolaus Pevsner his Buildings of England: Lancashire – North. These fundamental qualities have not changed and can still be appreciated – just!
Regrettably - for at least the last ten years - the care and maintenance of our historic town centre has been chronically underfunded and poorly managed by local and county authorities. This is now telling on the ‘townscape pleasure’ which is looking shabby and uncared for. Pavements, notably in and around the Market and throughout the town centre, are patched with ugly and incongruous black tarmacadam and remain hazardous - if not actually unsafe. Potholes in town centre roads are left to last moment repairs and then cheaply and poorly patched. Roads are scarred by ubiquitous yellow lines. Infringements of Planning and Conservation Area Regulations are not enforced and design standards for new development and alterations diluted. All manner of unauthorised advertisements, banners, fly posters and sandwich boards obscure and diminish the ‘townscape pleasure’ that residents and visitors should all be enjoying and benefitting from.
As far as the quality of streetscape and car park provision Clitheroe is the poor relation of East Lancashire - despite having one of the highest Social Grade & Occupational Ratings in Lancashire - our communal environment is managed on a ‘make do and mend basis’ and increasingly this shows. Every single town centre in East Lancashire, and many of our neighbours over the border in West and North Yorkshire, have had the benefit of town centre environmental improvements. These benefit the quality of life and amenity for their residents and future maintenance costs. They generate economic income from the attraction of visitors as recognised in the Council’s recent Review of this. Such improvements have, so far, passed Clitheroe by.
The option to bid for this ‘once in a generation’ funding - if successful - will address the neglect of our historic town centre and its Market Quarter and must be taken. Not to bid for these funds would be negligent and condemn our town centre to a continuing slow demise in the face of continued underfunding and the growing threat from online shopping.
To submit a successful bid would not only secure the regeneration of the Market but also to the whole of the town’s central areas as set out in the abandoned Town Centre Masterplan of 2010. The reference to revisit and update this is equally welcomed and supported.
The Future High Streets Fund requires community stakeholder participation to support a bid for its support. We are convinced that, in adopting option 7.1.2 this support will be forthcoming from such organisations as the Chamber of Trade and Commerce, the Market Traders, this Society and others including - one hopes - Lancashire County Council.
Conditional for eligibility of a Stage One application is that ‘We will not accept bids covering town centre areas that are not facing significant challenges’. Few historic town centres can be facing more significant challenges than Clitheroe - nor would benefit more from obtaining such an award.
A successful application for grant aid further states ‘We would expect any identified need for investment to fall under the following themes:
Investment in physical infrastructure
Acquisition and assembly of land including making improvements to the public realm
Improvements to transport access, traffic flow and circulation in the area
Supporting change of use including (where appropriate) housing delivery and densification
Supporting adaptation of the high street in response to changing technology
We believe that all of these themes could readily be identified in an application for Clitheroe Town Centre. Much was covered in the 2010 Town Centre Masterplan which, revisited, could be adopted as the basis for such an application.
The Director of Economic Development and Planning rightly points out the risk that ‘terminating the existing procurement exercise could reduce the Council’s credibility and may result in less bidders seeking to take part on future Council procurements.’ However, it is hard to imagine that Consultants and Developers would actually turn down the opportunity to tender for such a major regeneration project, at this point in time, if offered the opportunity to do so. Further, we believe that not to have the confidence to bid for this once in a generation funding option would certainly result in the total loss of the Council’s credibility amongst its constituents. This group should surely have priority consideration over the former.
You are respectfully requested to take advantage of the skills and experience of your recently appointed Director of Economic Development and Planning and support option 7.1.2. of this report. In doing so we feel certain that the community will, at last, support your endeavours to regenerate the Market Quarter and the whole Town Centre.
Thank you for taking time consider the Society’s views on this critical issue for the future our Town Centre and the administrative centre of our Borough.
Steve Burke Dip Arch (Oxf’d) Conservation Architect
Clitheroe Civic Society
A Guided Tour of Clitheroe Inns – Past & Present
Based on the recently published ‘Inns of Clitheroe Past & Present’ (May 2019) book by Local Historian, John Lambert.
The date for this visit is now Wednesday 18th September
A Guided Tour of Bellman Park Clitheroe
Tours at 11am & 2pm Saturday 14th September
These tours will cover the social, industrial and agricultural significance of Bellman Park and will be led by Andrew Collinson who was raised at Bellman Farm.
Lancashire Local History Federation
‘At Home’ with Lancaster Archaeological and Historical Society
Saturday 15 June 2019
9.30-c.4.15 Quaker Meeting House, Lancaster (adjacent to station)
Do you have, or admire, a Lancashire accent? Did your parents say words that you don't hear anymore? We are creating a dialect reading group that will progress into a dialect writing group for people who live around Pendle Hill.
But first anyone can join us for an entertaining hour and a half with Jennifer Reid, the Broadside Balladress, finding out more about the Lancashire dialect and the man who inspired the creation of a group dedicated to preserving, reading and writing that dialect - Paul Graney.