Southport Town Deal board has until 10 May to confirm the projects they are pursuing to improve the town.
Earlier this month, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that Southport would be awarded £37.5million in Town Deal funding – in addition to £1million awarded last year.
The initial £1m Acceleration Grant funding has already been invested with £100,000 going towards the Southport BID initiative to create “a boulevard of lights” along Lord Street and £900,000 supporting the transformation of Southport Market into an exciting new food, drink and events venue.
The £37.5million awarded to Southport was the highest awarded to any of the 45 Town Deal recipients in the March Budget.
It was an endorsement of the quality of the proposals which Southport put forward and the impact they demonstrated that they would achieve.
Now they have until 10 May to confirm in writing to the Government the schemes which they will pursue.
The Southport Town Deal board had initially aimed to bid for up to £25million in funding.
But following consultation with local people through Stand Up For Southport, Turleys and DS Emotion – with over 7,000 responses achieved – they subsequently put their proposals together and asked for £50million in funding.
Central to that was a new events, theatre and conference centre to replace Southport Theatre, which closed its doors in March last year.
Also proposed was a spectacular new light show in the Marine Lake; infrastructure spending to support the ambitions of Southport Pleasureland to become a year-round attraction; the conversion of empty town centre centre buildings into business incubator and co-working space; and public realm improvements between Southport Train Station and the Promenade.
The Town Deal board estimates that the Government funding it has secured will attract a further £400million in private investment.
Schemes including Southport Cove, which would see Princes Park become a world class surf resort, would bring in £40million investment and 120 new jobs.
Other private funding is expected to follow, as Sefton Council puts together a Town Investment Plan (TIP) for Southport to help plan its future.
The next steps of the Southport Town Deal will be discussed at a Sefton Council Cabinet meeting next Thursday (1 April).
In his report to councillors, Sefton Executive Director Stephen Watson said: “The Town Investment Plan (TIP) provides a long-term vision for Southport to 2050, identifying potential projects that will help to improve the town in the short, medium and long term and support the delivery of innovative regeneration plans.
“The objective of the Town Deal Fund is to drive the economic regeneration of towns to deliver long term economic and productivity growth through: Urban regeneration, planning and land use; Skills and enterprise; Infrastructure; Connectivity.
“In the Government’s budget, published on 3 March 2021 it was confirmed that Southport has been offered a Town Deal up to the value of £37.5 million.
“The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has advised that the higher funding offer (above £25 million) is in recognition of the case that Southport has made for the regional and national significance of its proposals.”
The Heads of Terms, to be finalised by 10th May 2021, will act as a Memorandum of Understanding for the future development and delivery of Southport’s Town Investment Plan and project proposals.
It sets out joint expectations as Southport enters the business case development phase (a 12-month phase) that the Town Deal board and Sefton Council will prioritise the projects included in the TIP within the funding envelope being offered.
Funding for individual projects will be subject to successfully completing Phase 2 of the Towns Fund process. This includes detailed project development and business case assurance at local level.
Local partners will work with the government to demonstrate the feasibility, viability and value for money of their projects by developing and submitting the Town Deal Summary Document which will include: a list of agreed projects; details of business case assurance processes followed for each project; an update on actions taken in relation to the Heads of Terms key conditions and requirements; a Delivery Plan; a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan; confirmation of funding arrangements and financial profiles for each project.
Stephen Watson wrote: “The Heads of Terms state that we should confirm in writing the projects being taken forward within two months of accepting the offer (by 10th May 2021).
“Business cases must then be completed and a summary document submitted, within 12 months of the deal being agreed.
“Once approved by MHCLG and assuming the conditions have been met, the funding will be released.
“If the town wishes to alter or change the projects being developed or make other changes on the conditions set out in the Terms then it must be presented to the Towns Hub partners, with clear justification and evidence.
“The management, governance and delivery of Southport’s Town Investment Plan will require the ongoing oversight provided by the Town Deal Board.
“As the accountable body, Sefton Council will retain responsibility for the delivery of the programme.
“Project management and delivery will continue to be provided by Sefton Council.
“Specific project business cases will be brought to Sefton Council’s Cabinet as required in accordance with council financial procedure rules.”
Southport MP Damien Moore said: “This is an exciting opportunity for all our communities here as well as businesses and local leaders to work with the Government to transform Southport’s long-term economic growth prospects, particularly as we meet the challenges presented by Covid-19.
“For example, plans to transform Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, alongside the creation of the UK’s first ever Light and Sound Show at Marine Lake, will help to boost our tourism industry.
“In addition, plans to refurbish the Crown Buildings into an Enterprise Arcade and the creation of a new Enterprise Store will support local small businesses and encourage the growth in the expanding digital economy.”