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24 January 2019

Market redevelopement

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

Dear Councillors

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.

 Yours Sincerely

Steve Burke Dip Arch (Oxf’d) Conservation Architect

Chairman

Clitheroe Civic Society


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24 January 2019

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

15 January 2019

SPECTACULAR HISTORY:
PAGEANTS AND PROCESSIONS IN THE NORTH WEST
The next Federation day school will be on 16 February 2019 with the theme of pageants and processions. The North West has a long tradition of communities coming together to perform such events for special occasions, be it annual celebrations or, as with the Preston Guild, once every twenty years.
The speakers will cover a range of such events to illustrate their variety. Dr Jack Southern will begin the day with the very Lancashire tradition of Cotton Queens. Jack is a lecturer in Public History at UCLAN whose main research examines communities linked to the Lancashire cotton industry. Next will be Dr Michael Winstanley who will look at the passion for pageants in the area. Mike is no stranger to the Federation and has spoken at several of our day schools. He is a retired Senior Lecturer in Social and Regional History at Lancaster University. Garry Stringfellow will start the afternoon with a talk on rushbearing processions. Garry is a retired teacher with a long-standing interest in folk traditions. He has recently published a book entitled Rushbearing and Rush Strewing in Churches Across the Northern Counties. The day will end with Dr Keith Vernon who will speak about the pageants of Preston Guild. Keith is a Principal Lecturer in History at UCLAN whose research interests are on the history of higher and technical education. He has published a paper on the 1922 Preston Guild in the Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire in 2013.
The day will include a very short AGM, at which officers and committee members will be elected - we welcome your attendance. We would encourage anyone who would like to consider becoming a member of the committee to put their name forward via the nomination paper. If you would like to ask what is involved, please contact Marianne Howell. We meet only four times a year, and business is conducted in a very friendly atmosphere. Meanwhile, do attend the day school for what promises to be a very enjoyable and informative day.
The venue for the day school will be Preston Masonic Hall which has proved very popular in previous years. For further details consult the booking form below.

14 January 2019

Poems celebrating some of Clitheroe’s historic buildings have been brought together in a new anthology published by the Ribble Valley Stanza, a group of local poets.

13 January 2019

One of an occasional series of Newsletters to Members to keep you informed on the Society’s activities.

To read the newsletter click on the More button below

13 November 2018

This additional event is in association with The Grand, Clitheroe.

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