SEVEN major projects in the heart of Grimsby are being put forward to receive a slice of £25m Government cash, which has been ringfenced for investment as part of the Towns Fund.
Councillors are being asked to recommend that plans for the following should be finalised as part of a Town Investment Plan and be submitted to Central Government by the end of October:
- The development of a new public square at Riverhead Square to include enhanced passenger facilities;
- Better pedestrian and cycle loops to connect the town centre and Alexandra Dockside;
- The next phase of development of Garth Lane towards the creation of a major new waterfront residential community;
- Refurbishment of the Central Library to accommodate new uses, including the possibility for creating a new space for learning and innovation;
- Development of Victoria Mill Quarter including enhancement to the waterfront, to attract new uses to this heritage part of the town;
- Further regeneration of St James’ Quarter to complement the regeneration works currently being carried out;
- A local grant programme for community and local business-based initiatives, which supports activity in the town centre.
Once the plan has been submitted, the next stage will be securing an ‘in-principle’ agreement with Government to begin the release of the £25m, which has been ringfenced for Grimsby as part of the national ‘Town’s Fund’ programme.
As reported, Grimsby was a trailblazer for this initiative, which has now been extended to include 100 other urban centres. It is designed to see targeted investment into areas that will help to get towns around the country back onto a ‘level playing field’ – providing a springboard for private investment and growth.
The Greater Grimsby Town Board, comprising of business leaders, community representatives, MPs and public sector heads, steers the current ‘Town Deal’ activity and will continue to lead on this next crucial stage, as Grimsby progresses the opportunities of the Fund.
The seven projects were taken from an overarching Grimsby Town Centre Masterplan and take account of the views of hundreds of local people and businesses. Some 438 people took part in an online consultation event over the summer with scores more involved in one-to-one discussions and focus groups when the Masterplan was drawn up. It takes a more in-depth look at what is required to reshape the town centre and considers the work already taking place at St James’ Square and Garth Lane.
North East Lincolnshire Council’s leader, Cllr Philip Jackson said that scores of people wanted to see a multi-use town centre, that made more of its waterfront and maritime heritage.
Comments included: “We would like to see more green spaces and places to relax,” and: “I love the idea of creating nice social space around the water. Another said: “Reuse the old buildings to make them look new and full of life again”, and: “In Copenhagen and many other cities, they have ‘containers’ for bars and street food/ice cream. I think these are a fantastic idea, low rental and overheads, but will attract hundreds of people.”
Whilst a large number who took part in the consultation did express concern about the current state of the centre and the need to tackle anti-social behaviour, there was optimism for the opportunities Grimsby has and how future investment offered a chance for really significant change. The Masterplan was seen to have a clear role to play in addressing negative perceptions of the town.
It was also clear that people wanted Riverhead Square developed as a community space. As a result, some advanced ‘Phase One’ works on the main square are being looked at, using extra funding of £1m released by the Government as part of an ‘Accelerated Towns’ Fund’.
Thanking those who took part in the consultation, Cllr Jackson, said: “We all appreciate that our town centre, like many other urban areas across the country, does have its issues but we are determined that, with partner and residents’ support, we will take a long-term approach to re-inventing what we currently have. It is evident, and now more than ever, that town centres must evolve to offer a diverse range of attractions, which are safe for families to enjoy. That is what we are determined to do here.”
Separately, a decision on whether Grimsby town centre has been awarded a further £25m of Future High Streets Fund money is due this autumn. This was a joint North East Lincolnshire Council and Freshney Place bid to transform the western end of the shopping centre, creating a new market hall and areas for leisure use.
Once the Towns Fund projects are worked up further and the funds are made available, projects will be delivered in stages from late 2021 up to 2025.