Fylde Council members, at the full council meeting on Monday 2nd October, have approved funding of nearly half a million pounds for a professional project team to progress plans for a public realm scheme in St Anne’s, ahead of the anticipated third and final bidding round of the Levelling Up Fund in Autumn 2023. The scheme would build upon the Events Space already in design and include the rest of St Anne’s Square up to the Railway Station.
The funding allows Fylde Council to secure the services of BDP Ltd and Gosling Consulting Ltd, both of whom the Council say have already built up a good working relationship with the Council through their work on the interrelated Events Space project, with the former also having prepared the overall St Anne’s Masterplan. A total of £499,761 will be allocated from the Council’s Capital Investment Reserve to retain the expertise of these companies.
This funding allocation will allow Fylde Council and partners to develop a comprehensive ‘shovel ready’ plan with the best possible chance of securing significant capital funding, with the goal of implementing three key interventions from the St Anne’s Masterplan.
Fylde Council’s ambitious bid for Round 2 of the Levelling Up Fund in July 2022 was unfortunately one of many across Lancashire to be unsuccessful, but at the same time, the bid was praised for its rationale, its well-presented economic case, and for providing good information on the bid’s strategic fit.
Further feedback from the Government made clear that in the next round, bids in a demonstrably ‘shovel ready’ state would stand a better chance of being progressed. ‘Shovel ready’ bids are those sufficiently developed whereby works can be tendered and contracts awarded shortly after funding is announced.
Cllr Karen Buckley, Leader of Fylde Council, said: “The anticipated third round of Levelling Up Fund presents us with an opportunity to prepare the ground for further regeneration. There is great value in developing these plans as, even if the LUF bid is not progressed, we will still be in an excellent position to apply for other funding sources as they become available.”
The three proposed intervention areas taken from the St Anne’s Masterplan are:
- The Station Gateway: Upgrading the public realm in the station forecourt, providing a direct view through the square to the pier, and potentially preparing the adjacent site for development by a hotel operator.
- St Anne’s Square East: Refreshing the east of the Square, including upgrading street furnishings, replacing the road crossings, and an enhanced link to Ashton Gardens through Garden Street.
- Active Travel Link: Establishing the Active Travel Link on the North side of the Square, providing a clear and legible route through the town centre to the Pier and Promenade.
The target for the completion of the commission is early March 2024. In the previous round of applications, the process for submission, evaluation and award took approximately six months