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GO AHEAD: Glastonbury Town Deal update

GO AHEAD: Glastonbury Town Deal update

Image: LDRS

A dozen projects designed to regenerate Glastonbury town centre will still go ahead, despite nearly £1M being shaved off the budget.

Glastonbury was one of two Somerset towns (the other being Bridgwater) which was selected in September 2019 as one of 101 UK towns to benefit from the government’s £3.6bn towns fund.

The town deal board, led by Mendip District Council, was awarded £500,000 of “accelerator funding” for five small initiatives in October 2020, and applied for a further £24.5M to fund a dozen larger projects.

The board has now confirmed these projects will be proceeding as intended – despite the full amount of funding not being provided.

The town deal board comprises representatives from the county, district and town councils, the YMCA, the NHS, the Glastonbury Festival, the town’s chamber of commerce and Wells MP James Heappey.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has provided the board with £23.6M on top of the accelerator funding.

This is higher than the amount given to Bridgwater (£22.6M on top of £750,000 of accelerator funding), but still £900,000 short of what the board had hoped to receive.

To make up for this shortfall, the board voted unanimously on Friday (July 30) to cut the budget of each of the 12 projects by 3.6 per cent – ensuring each project can still go ahead.

The projects being taken forward are as follows:

  1. Regeneration of the Baily’s Buildings into a zero-carbon hub for local businesses, housing the Glastonbury Environment Centre (see below) and a new visitor’s centre which celebrates the town’s industrial heritage
  2. An enterprise and innovation centre in Beckery House, which will include space for food manufacturing and digital skills training
  3. Completion of the work on The Red Brick Building C, delivering dedicated facilities for artisans, musicians and performers as well as an upgraded base for Glastonbury FM
  4. The Glastonbury Clean Energy project spearheaded by Avalon Community Energy, creating “self-financing green jobs” through solar panel installations and reinvesting profits into the community
  5. The Glastonbury Environment Centre within the Baily’s Buildings, providing a gateway to the Avalon Marshes
  6. Renovation of St Brigid’s Chapel and Field, making it easier to access the site as part of the town’s tourist trail and bringing its unique heritage to life
  7. The Food and Regenerative Farming Centre, re-purposing 23 acres of under-used pasture land and buildings to educate locals and provide locally grown food for businesses in the town
  8. New park and ride service to reduce town centre traffic, making it easier for visitors to the area and boosting the night-time economy
  9. Phosphate mitigation and providing traveller sites, including improvements to the town’s sewage treatment facility managed by Wessex Water and securing a new local site for the traveller community
  10. Regeneration of St Dunstan’s House as a town hub, providing a base for community groups to host a range of activities in a covid-secure space
  11. Renovating the entrance to Glastonbury Abbey through a new open piazza space, upgrading the existing shop and ticket offices and demolishing the “inadequate”
  12. Improvements to the Tor Leisure Centre site, relocating Glastonbury FC, providing a new clubhouse and an all-weather pitch that can also support field hockey, tennis and netball, along with a new bowling green

Glastonbury mayor Jon Cousins said: “There are elements within the town investment plan (TIP) that benefit different parts of our community and, with regeneration and sustainability at the very heart of the plan, it is only right that all of our ambitions for the town are realised, albeit with nominal budget cuts.

“With a collaborative approach, I’m sure we can find ways to consolidate some costs and requirements to ensure that Glastonbury still gains maximum benefits from the funding.”

The board and council will now submit additional information to the MHCLG by the end of August, with business cases for each project needing to be submitted by June 28, 2022.

Board chairman Robert Richards said: “There has been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes with the project leaders, delivery team and my fellow town deal board members.

“I would like to extend my thanks to them all as we now take another step closer to bringing in the £23.6M towns fund investment in Glastonbury – the highest award in the south west and one of the highest per capita in the UK.

“This project will provide tangible opportunities for local businesses, improved resources for the local community, and a real legacy for the town that will benefit Glastonbury and its residents long into the future.”

District council leader Ros Wyke added: “I’m delighted to hear of the good progress made by the Glastonbury town deal board and the vital decisions they are making at their regular meetings.

“The support of the board is absolutely essential to the success of the TIP that was received so positively by the government. Their oversight and guidance, together with the expertise of our officers and consultants, will ensure successful projects form the core of the renewal and regrowth of the town.

“Glastonbury is a major visitor destination as well as a very special place to live and work. The 12 projects in development will bring together infrastructure and services to enable greater prosperity. They are exactly what the people of this unique town deserve.”

 

Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter


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