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Thanks Malcolm - you beat me to it. Still no sign of the InvestingInBedlington.co.uk website being updated which is odd given its intended purpose of keeping us up to date on the project.

It does look like the scheme is regressing though - just Aldi and some new flats and a couple of retail units. The family-oriented pub in the initial plans seems to be long gone and the promised leisure facilities from September's update relegated to a possible future phase (phase 3 or beyond presumably).

Still at least it looks like we might finally see some bricks rising above the ground at some point this year which is better than what we've had for the past 6 years and counting. That said we have had numerous such statements over those years promising imminent building work so here's hoping this isn't yet another false dawn.

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I take your points _pauls and agree in most part.

The difference this time is that NCC and the LEP have actually signed off the money for it so it will start.

And yes it has little reflection to the original scheme and given recent events Im not too sure Im unhappy about it. 

Personally I believe we need to reinvent our Town in a dynamic, bespoke and forward thinking way, not just to copy what's available in other nearby towns.  Thats what's going to result in footfall and that will mean businesses will inevitably follow.   

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19 minutes ago, Malcolm Robinson said:

I take your points _pauls and agree in most part.

The difference this time is that NCC and the LEP have actually signed off the money for it so it will start.

And yes it has little reflection to the original scheme and given recent events Im not too sure Im unhappy about it. 

Personally I believe we need to reinvent our Town in a dynamic, bespoke and forward thinking way, not just to copy what's available in other nearby towns.  Thats what's going to result in footfall and that will mean businesses will inevitably follow.   

Thanks Malcolm - my point about the lack of Pub and sporting facilities was just that now we seem to be back to just housing and a supermarket of similar size and character to the ones we already have (at least in terms of committed development). I thought this was roundly rejected by the people of the town in the initial consultation. I certainly think the idea of leisure facilities and a business/community hub would be much better than a load of small retail units that either stand empty or pop us as vape shops for 6 months and then shut down again, however as far as I can see the only commitment is to Aldi and new retail units and flats at the market place.

I have requested the council share with us an updated plan in terms of exactly what is in scope for Phases 1 and 2 (plus the latest thinking on timings) versus what is presumably aspiration for Phases 3 and beyond, and an idea of what the scale of the investment is. I was told back in September that we'd bid for some of the funding available from the Get Britain Building scheme and a verdict should be due in January, so it seems like the budget keeps growing but the ambition keep shrinking.

 

Edited by _pauls
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Ive done the same _pauls........my update was yesterday or next week.  Looks like next week then.  

I would like to see a business hub with units for people/businesses to go into.  I would also expect to see it offering training and retraining not least for the potential new jobs coming to Cambois.  

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 03/02/2021 at 18:57, Malcolm Robinson said:

Ive done the same _pauls........my update was yesterday or next week.  Looks like next week then.  

I would like to see a business hub with units for people/businesses to go into.  I would also expect to see it offering training and retraining not least for the potential new jobs coming to Cambois.  

Any update from your request @Malcolm Robinson? I got an email back three weeks ago saying that my query was accepted as an FOI request but I've heard nothing since then. I emailed the FOI team to ask if there was any ETA on an answer on Monday but heard nothing back from that email either.

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7 minutes ago, Malcolm Robinson said:

Ive asked again but still havent got exact details of whats going on.   I even asked at the last full council meeting.  

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=17601&fbclid=IwAR3Cpjheg_sgjo89clVvE44YS7RN8htY8dHVHnwx0CBL-doOy4V6fdesdOA&v=6ORSQ-AF99s&feature=youtu.be

Thanks Malcolm - I appreciate your perseverance. To some extent I'm tired of hearing about funding and want to hear about what is going to be done with it. Another "reimagining" exercise sounds like the ball being kicked down the road again on any real benefit coming to the town (I don't think a carbon copy of the existing Lidl is much benefit).

I'm a Teessider originally and I was very interested in the plans by Stockton council for a very different kind of town centre redevelopment : https://www.stockton.gov.uk/news/2020/february/plans-unveiled-for-stockton-town-centre-after-massive-response-to-public-consultation/. I know we don't have a river but its nice to see someone thinking differently about what adds value to a community.

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Thanks for that -pauls, interesting read and a refreshing one.  

 

This is exactly the type of 'conversation' we need in Bedlington so we get the investment, type of development which will focus the Town, help all the existing retailers and add to their ranks.  

It encapsulates the reasons why I don't think putting in a facsimile of what's available around us will change the fortunes of our Town.   

We need to be bold, innovative and imaginative if we are ever to see Bedlington become a 'destination' Town. 

 

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So.. today I finally got a response to my questions which Advance treated as a Freedom of Information request. The questions I asked were :

  • What is now in scope for the phases of the development, so we can see what is actually committed vs aspirations for the future?
  • What are the current timelines associated with these phases?
  • What are the current budgets for these phases?
  • Did we get the additional funding applied for last year from the Get Britain Building scheme?
  • What is the overall size of funding secured now?
  • How does this compare in terms of investment into other towns in the area?

NB I didn't frame this as an FOI myself it was just an email - I would have been a bit more forensic if I'd known it was going to be dealt with as an FOI.

Anyway I was advised to see the press release and "check our social media", and an additional two paragraphs :

“Advance applied for £2m funding from the Governments Getting Building Fund in November and
approval was received in January which, along with the funding from NCC, will enable the next phase
of the scheme to progress on the Market Place which will include a terrace of commercial units with
apartments above (Greggs will remain and continue to trade throughout).


We continue to work with NCC on potential options for further phases which could include an enterprise hub and leisure offer"

They did not decline to answer my questions on any particular grounds, they just chose to ignore them.

Not very satisfactory.

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