To consider the report of the Chief Executive (reference 19/004) attached.
The Cabinet considered a report by the Chief Executive (Reference 19/004) in respect of the South Cliff Gardens project. The Council’s Director (LD) introduced the report noting that the report should be rightly acknowledged as a joint report with the members of the community who had worked so hard in supporting the proposals and ensuring the success of the Heritage Lottery Fund application. The Council’s Principal Coastal Officer, Mr Rowe delivered a presentation to the meeting which outlined the background to the project in the Spa Cliff Stabilisation Scheme, the opportunity this project afforded to arrest the decline in the surrounding gardens through a separate HLF application, the large scale of the gardens and corresponding ambition and monetary value of the HLF project, the useful example of a similar scheme on South Tyneside, the integral community dimension of the entire project and widespread affection for the gardens, the important heritage elements, the aim to restore the gardens, broaden their usage and preserve the site for future generations. Mr Rowe outlined the different elements of the project including the restoration of the shelters and the Italian Steps, the drainage improvements, the new operations centre and the Clock Café Family Hub. Members were further advised that the project worth a total of £7.032m had already been through a rigorous two stage process. Within the original Stage 1 application the Council’s match funding contribution was anticipated to be £1.25m from the South Cliff Stabilisation Scheme, however disappointingly during the development of Stage 2, the works which were anticipated to be eligible as match funding were reduced on the grounds they were ‘non-heritage costs’. This left the Council with a £1.576m match funding contribution to the project. With the permission of the Chairman, Mr David Auton, Chair of the South Cliff Community Group then addressed the meeting. He commended the efforts of the SCCG and other volunteer supporters of the project who undertook an extensive consultation process within the neighbourhood and further afield using social media to capture people’s hopes, aspirations and dreams for the gardens. In the course of six weeks, the SCCG raised a total of £112k for the project attracting pledges locally and from around the world. This demonstrated people’s strong emotional attachment to the gardens through all the different stages of life. The gardens represented a place of physical and mental wellbeing to a range of community organisations including carers, dementia, disability action and refugee groups. A youth steering group had also been very active, generating many ideas for the future shape of the gardens. Whilst respecting the past, the project sought to restore and develop the gardens for the future. The Chairman and other Members of the Cabinet congratulated Mr Auton and SCCG for their achievements in both raising funds and engaging such a wide group of people of different ages and backgrounds in this project and thanked them for their outstanding support and involvement.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet recommends that the Council:
i. Notes and appreciates the work of local community groups in supporting the South Cliff Gardens project to date.
ii. Approves proceeding to the delivery stage of the South Cliff Gardens project;
iii. Subject to the approval of the above, approves a scheme budget of £7.032m to cover the capital, project and activity works associated with the project; to be funded as follows: £4.666m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) , £1.576m Borough Council resources set aside to progress the capital strategy, £194k match funding from the Spa Coastal Protection scheme budget, £133k from Section 106 contributions, £117k from local fund raising, £235k from additional income, and £111k from in-kind contributions;
iv. Notes that to progress the scheme the Council must underwrite potential funding and income shortfalls that may arise on the £194k match funding, £133k Section 106 contributions and £235k additional income. Any positive or negative variation in the amounts received from these areas will directly impact the Council’s contribution to the scheme;
And that the Cabinet:
v. Accepts £4.665m (66%) HLF grant funding for the project and approve entering into the grant funding agreement in Appendix B, noting that this will include the requirement to register a restriction against the Council’s title to the gardens;
vi. Instructs the Council’s appointed specialist landscape consultant Southern Green Limited to proceed with the delivery of the project, which will include procurement of a suitable specialist landscape contractor for the works;
vii. Notes that the outcome of the tender of the capital works, and a recommendation to appoint a specialist landscape contractor, will be reported back to Cabinet in due course along with an update on the achievement of income from external funding pledges. The underachievement of income from funding pledges or a higher than anticipated tender price for the capital works may jeopardise the future progression of the scheme;
viii. Delegates authority to the Director (LD) in consultation with the relevant portfolio holder to enter in to a funding agreement with the South Cliff Community Group to enable the Council to draw down all monies pledged and raised for the project.
ix. Approves that £15k of eligible Section 106 contributions previously committed to Valley Gardens be reallocated to the South Cliff Garden project;
x. Approves that £86k of eligible Section 106 contributions, which are already held or due to be invoiced imminently, be committed to the South Cliff Garden project;
To save the unique and enchanting heritage of South Cliff Gardens from a point of critical decline and to breathe new life into the Gardens so they appeal to 21st Century communities and become a vibrant, financially sustainable and well-used park once again.