Purpose of Report
To provide the Executive with an update on a scheme of works which had already been approved to demolish the Cornhill Kiosk and put in place measures to protect the existing tree, create a new seating platform and restore the immediate public realm.
The report also sought further authority for a second phase of improvement works to include paving, seating, street furniture and a potential water feature, in consultation with key partners.
That the Executive:
(1) Notes the proposed scope of works, process and timescale for the demolition of the Cornhill Kiosk, retention and protection of the tree and provision of integral seating as a first phase of improvements to Cornhill Square.
(2) Authorises officers to develop proposals for a second phase of improvement works to include paving, seating, street furniture and a potential water feature, in consultation with key partners, and notes that the implementation of the final scheme will be subject to securing external funding.
(3) Authorises officers to procure and commission feasibility and design works to inform a full business case for the future development of the Central Market building and City Square, in consultation with key partners.
(4) Approves the use of the ring-fenced budget of £300,000 to support the cost of the above schemes and as leverage to secure additional, external and match-funding as described within the report.
(5) Approves to delegate the final allocation of the £300,000 budget between the identified projects to the Major Development Strategic Director and Chief Finance Officer.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Other options considered and rejected were set out in paragraphs 7.1 and 7.2 of the report.
Reason for Decision
Updates were reported on the following aspects of the Cornhill, markets and city centre:
Cornhill Phase 1
Consent had been granted for the demolition of the kiosk and proposals had been modified to allow for the retention and protection of the associated tree. Designs had been produced to allow for the protection of the three roots through a ‘root bridge’ system and the creation of a new seating plinth below the tree canopy. The cost of the scheme was expected to increase as a result of the additional trees. It was proposed to prioritise this scheme and fund the work from a ring-fenced £300,000 budget. The residual budget would then be used to support the implementation of the phase 2 works and Central Market.
It was anticipated that works would commence on-site in November 2019 to be completed within three months, however, it was noted that fee proposals were due to be returned by 13 September 2019 with the contract due to be let early in October.
Cornhill Phase 2
Concept designs and estimated costs were also being produced for a wider scheme of public realm improvements to Cornhill Square. This included natural stone paving, with a palette of materials to mirror the wider Cornhill Quarter, new seating and a potential water feature. The final scheme design would be subject to consultation with key partners and full cost estimates, with implementation of the scheme being subject to securing additional external funding.
It was proposed to utilise the remaining funds from the allocated budget to help leverage external funds to support the delivery of this project from an external source. If funds could be secured for delivery, the project would proceed to full design and tender in order to achieve value for money.
Officers would work closely with the County Council’s Highways department to procure, deliver and manage the works, which included an area of public highway as well as City Council land.
The summary of the redevelopment of the market building and City Square represented an opportunity to create an ‘anchor destination’ within the Cornhill Quarter, which could support an improved and diversified market offer alongside a wider range of uses and innovative technology to promote and sustain vitality in response to customer trends.
It was proposed that the Council now worked with key partners to develop a masterplan for the Central Market, City Square and Waterside South area. This would include feasibility work and the preparation of concept designs and cost estimates for the restoration and development of the Central Market building, as well as options for a co-ordinated outdoor market offer on City Square. It was therefore recommended that the Council allocated a portion of the ring-fenced budget of £300,000 to support the feasibility work, which was an essential part of a full business case for the market. Council funding would be used to match external funding in order to maximise the level of funding to enable developed and technical designs for planning and tender, and associated professional fees.
In addition, it was proposed to submit a funding bid for match-funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership’s feasibility fund to support this work. Further funding for design may also be available through the Heritage Action Zone, which was a £1.6 million bid for funding to support a package of heritage-led initiatives. A decision on this bid would be expected by January 2020.
Work was on-going to strengthen and co-ordinate the existing market offer and attract new traders. The Farmers’ Market was now under City Council operation and four new food retailers had been attracted to the Central Market in the past month.
The Market Rights Policy and application process was now in place, enabling the Council to better control the market offer within the city and to consolidate provision within the Central Market and City Square area.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe praised this excellent project which he said was in a really important space in the city centre which had huge potential for improvement.
Members of the Executive reiterated Councillor Metcalfe’s comments and were pleased to note that the tree near the current kiosk building would now remain in place. It was suggested that more greenery should be introduced to the high street.
A request was also made that the Council continued to communicate effectively with key stakeholders and the public regarding the development plan in order that everyone was fully informed of the respective schemes and associated timescales.