Citizens’ Forum – January 2021
Citizens’ Forum – January 2021
On 7th January 2021, the Todmorden Town Deal Board held two online public meetings to present the projects provisionally selected for inclusion into the Town Investment Plan.
Over 7000 invitations were delivered to home and business addresses in the town and around 170 people (in total) attended the two meetings – one of which was in the afternoon and the other in the early evening.
You can view and download a copy of the presentation by clicking on the accompanying image.
As well as the presentation there was also an opportunity for attendees to ask any questions they had about the projects and process – and you will find all these detailed and answered below.
Questions & Answers from the Todmorden Town Investment Plan Citizens’ Forums on 07-01-21
Please note: The questions and answers displayed here are a very much raw and ‘verbatim’ transcription of those asked and responded to in the meetings and so will not always be as grammatically perfect as they possibly could be. This is because we wanted to publish them here as soon as possible, but we will revisit and refine them (where necessary) in the not too distant future.
Questions were answered by different members of the Board and their advisors, which you will notice in the language of the responses, and some questions were answered by more than one person.
Governance, Process & Funding Questions
In terms of costings, are ALL of these short-listed projects possible if we got the maximum funding? Which are the key projects and which are more droppable?
All of the projects that have been presented today are feasible within the £25m, assuming we get the level of match funding we allocated on some of them. For example, on housing, the additional funding there will be money from Homes England.
At this stage there haven’t been any discussions about which projects are more ‘droppable’, but one of the things in the next 12 months is that we would work on more detail on all of the projects and at that point, some of them may not be as deliverable as we thought. However, we certainly are not saying at this point with any of them that any projects are any more or less of a priority. They’re all part of a package.
There are a large number of great projects, some of which will be very costly. Is the board comfortable all these projects can be delivered for the £25m available? Have initial costings been undertaken and have projects been prioritised in case costs exceed the budget?
We do have initial costs on all of the projects. Some of them are more robust than others depending upon what stage the projects are at – we’ve got a quantity surveyor helping us. We are also very mindful that within the next 12 months, if we’re successful, we will be then be working up what’s called a five-stage business case using the Green Book Appraisal – which is basically the way that the government assess projects. Within that will be looking at project costs in more detail, whether there’s any match funding available and also how deliverable they all are.
In answer to the second part of the question on prioritisation, we haven’t done that yet and I think It is something that the Board will need to engage In that debate over the next couple of months. The intention of the board is to deliver the whole package which currently comes in at over the £25m, but within the £25m when we add in the match funding that we’ve got available.
What was the criteria you used to assess which projects are being including against those that aren't. Was this criteria applied across the board fairly of all projects put forward to be included?
All the projects were approved unanimously by Todmorden Town Deal Board and the assessment criteria were even-handedly applied to all projects. We took advice from professionals in the field. We were cognisant of all the local consultations that fed into the criteria that we set ourselves (see below).
It’s about responding to the community, it’s about resilient and environmentally sustainable town centres. All these were developed dispassionately in order that we could look people in the eye and say believe these will give us our best shot at investment in this town, which will itself allow us to access other funding streams for other great projects.
If the Town Investment Plan is supported by central Government, then the Town Deal Board will have 12 months to work up the detailed business case of the agreed projects.
Other responses to project priority questions...
A1: Over 40 projects were put forward and once they’d been through the criteria, to come within budget, we wanted to see where we could co-locate things so we had to be pragmatic. But we did want to include communities outside of the town centre, so included the schemes in Cornholme and Lidget and Walsden.
A2: Originally the boundary map that was supplied for us to work within did extend to Cornholme or beyond Walsden – and we got that extended to include Cornholme. There’s only one project I’m aware of that was potentially in the mix which was an old factory works and there was a proposal some time ago to turn that into a seated area. At the end of the day, all of these projects rely on people coming forward with projects and nobody did come forward from Cornholme.
A3: As Ward Councillor Cornholme it is obviously an area that needs investment and I had a separate meeting with the board and Karen and we were hopeful that someone would come forward with the project, But the problem was as Stephen said that nobody came forward. So that is why it wasn’t that it wasn’t on the radar.
A4: It is worth reflecting that the Towns Fund monies are capital so not able to provide ongoing revenue subsidies for. Government is also looking for the monies to be spent on things that can’t be funded through other sources. For example, for bus and train stations there are other funding and other pots of money and other projects ongoing so that such projects fit would not be as good with the Towns Fund.
Will the ventures that will make money be retained by this group/the council or sold to private companies to take forward?
This isn’t about us using public money to flog on things for some future purpose this is about using public funding to create infrastructure which brings about benefits to the town, the citizens of the town, and the young people in the town. So if you take for example the food enterprise – the food centre – then one would want to see that benefit local people. One would want to see community enterprises, if possible, running that, or local people who’ve got expertise in running whatever the facility is.
So we don’t see this as a way of ‘laundering’ money, we see this as a way of investing in the entrepreneurial spirit in the town in whichever form it is most appropriately displayed. On the whole, it would be great to see more co-operation and social enterprises across the town, then the money stays in the town.
Do the current plans incorporate the ideas about the Town Hall which didn't succeed in getting funding previously? e.g. Creating space for presentations?
The short answer is yes, absolutely.
Is there an opportunity for more people to support other inward investment opportunities?
There may well be opportunities for inward investment, private or public sector. Some projects may seek alternative methods of funding e.g. crowdfunding, community shares. Our aim is to seek inward investment for current projects developing opportunities on the back of the Town Fund to invest in the town more widely.
What is the timescale for the funding to become available?
We’re submitting the bid on 29th January. We envisage there will be about two months to assess. Then there will be what’s called the ‘head of terms’ so we’ll be negotiating with central government on how we can spend all the £25m. At that point, there will be some funding available to smooth the process in terms of business case development. The actual big chunk of money will come, we imagine, the following year. So we hope that we will get some capacity funding April time and then we will get the rest of the money in 2022.
Connectivity & Transport Questions
We are rural, have hills & many people without cars. Can you build into your thinking the capital resources needed to support ramping up the development of Community Transport? Say with one of the planned new developments such as in Walsden?
In terms of specifically enhancing community transport or enhancing public transport that’s slightly problematic for the Towns Fund because those tend to be revenue intensive projects. There was actually a project proposal put forward around demand-responsive transport which I thought was a fantastic proposal actually, but because of the other projects and because of its revenue basis it was difficult to take that forward.
What we have done with projects like that is we’ve had a chat with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, with a person called the Future Mobility Manager, and also with Calderdale Council to see if there’s another way of bringing a project forward on that. So we’re not proposing anything within the Towns Fund right now, but we are trying to keep that project alive to see if it can be delivered in another way.
There were a number of questions around the subject of Community Transport...
It’s important to say, with regard to the enterprise hub in the centre of Todmorden and the Walsden gateway proposals, there is an idea that we could develop what we’re calling “mobility hub” type offerings in those locations. So they become interchange hubs for a whole range of modes of transport and electric vehicles are present.
We’re quite interested in an idea that’s not fully developed and won’t be fully developed before the bid goes in.
Hopefully, over the next 12 months, we can work on looking at having accessible electric vehicles, that can be used in a shared way and possibly as a car club car. And also as a pool vehicle or a delivery vehicle. We haven’t worked out the details of it but we have got some good precedents from other more rural communities actually where electric vehicles have been purchased which is used partly as a car club, partly as a community car scheme and partly as a pool vehicle for a business.
So we are all hoping to incorporate an electric vehicle element into the Enterprise Hub and Walsden Gateway aspects of it, but we haven’t worked up the detail of it yet. It could partly address some of those legitimate community transport concerns, although possibly in a slightly different way.
Are there plans for disabled access for the station? We still need a lift at the train station to get to Platform 2, is there any plans to provide this?
A1: First of all in terms of disabled access – and better access for all pedestrians from the town centre and various locations up towards the railway station – there is a station gateway and approach project that would be looking to improve pedestrian access there.
There’s also a more ambitious project relating to enhancing access and having a lift, but that one we’re not sure about the affordability.
There will be better enhancements to routes up The Rise and down Station Approach and looking at better links onwards towards the bus station and Community College and enhancing those links. I also still have on my To-Do List to find out about what Network Rail is doing about disabled access to the eastbound platform (Platform 2), so within the station itself, we’re still trying to confirm what’s going ahead there. That wouldn’t be part of our project that would be a Network Rail project.
A2: Network rail announced (I think in early 2019) that accessibility, i.e. lifts, were going to be put in place at Todmorden station under what I think is their four-year plan. The last time I asked, which I now see with horror from my emails was quite some time ago, I asked what was happening and when we could expect to see these lifts going in. I was told at that point I think it was going to be 2022 before they even started work. I have not heard that Network Rail has altered their plans, but as I say I haven’t asked recently. I suppose there is always the caveat now that lots of plans have altered because of Covid and I don’t know whether there’s anything that’s happened because of that – and whether it has in fact been pulled from the four-year or five-year plan. I hope not.
Concerning the question of a railway station at Cornholme, we ought to promote that at every possibility even if it’s 20 years away at the earliest.
I noticed there were some comments about a station for Cornholme, and the answer is probably ‘chicken and egg’. The answer we got a few years ago was that the footfall didn’t justify a separate station. Of course, if there was a station there would be much more demand for people to live there. So I think this is a long term issue and before we could possibly get anywhere with the station for Cornholme we’d really have to up our game. And hopefully what’s happening with the Towns Fund Will be a stepping stone towards that day.
What about better local bus services? These are been cut all the time we need a local town service or a ring and ride service to bring people into our town centre.
One of the proposals that haven’t been taken forward In this investment plan is around demand-responsive services. Whilst the project proposal was very strong it was predominantly a revenue funding project.
We are aware that improving local bus services and local connectivity is important. I’ve spoken to West Yorkshire Combined Authority who are doing some pilots Into new demand-responsive bus services.
They’ve been delayed by Covid they’re going to be doing their first trial in East Leeds this year and Calderdale have volunteered themselves for subsequent trialling. So we’re trying to ensure that that project stays in the background and Investigating ways forward for it in the future even though it won’t go forward as part of this Town’s Fund bid.
A couple of simple things on use of towpath for cycling...
“The setts at the overflows need to be made cycle-friendly, very uneven and I have heard of a cyclist coming to grief this week on them. Secondly, please can we sort out the towpath at Bellholme the towpath is always flooded here. It is a drainage issue from Bellholme but it’s been bad for decades.”
It’s well known and well acknowledged that there are problems with the towpath. One of the elements of the scheme is from the Canals and Rivers Trust to make some of the weirs more accessible because most of the paths have been upgraded to Todmorden. It’s looking at enhancing from Todmorden to Walsden to provide a much more accessible route to connect to the Walsden gateway – the all-abilities cycling centre there and the river park. So that is being taken forward with the Canal and Rivers Trust to deal with those issues around uneven setts etc – and the costs we’re starting to generate for that to take that into account.
Could we consider a Mountain Bike activity centre? This would encourage Mountain Bikers to visit the town as we have some great trails.
A small component of getting the gateway facilities in the centre of Todmorden and the Walsden gateway Is that there would be bike hire, but also in the promotion and development of itineraries/routes for cyclists to come and enjoy the landscape.
Where will the displaced car parking go to? With the proposed Lever Street development and the areas used for carparks removed when markets and event are on, it seems at the time when parking is needed there are no places available?
If the Town Investment Plan is supported by central Government the detail of changes to car parking would need to be worked up in the following 12 months as part of the detailed business case. Any proposed reductions in parking may be offset by some of the housing and possibly the hotel which may include some undercroft parking.
Calderdale Council undertook a parking survey just before the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2019 when parking appeared to be relatively normal. On the busiest day at the busiest hour, there were 100 underutilised parking spaces in the centre of Todmorden, so there is possibly some extra capacity there at the moment, which means we could possibly afford to lose a few. As we put proposals in for the next stage this is obviously something that we’ll need to look at further.
Another thing is the ambitions about enabling active travel is to encourage more people to walk and cycle, especially those living close to the town centre and not to have to rely on their car. This will potentially free up parking spaces for those who can’t walk or cycle, or are coming from farther afield or need their car in the town centre. We hope that the package of measures for active travel will help reduce the need for parking.
Could we build an electric vehicle carshare scheme into any housing that get built in the centre? (Partly to reduce parking requirement)
Yes, absolutely. Whether there would be some very limited private parking is at a level of detail for the next stage. However, we would be hoping there’s an opportunity with the mobility hub to increase car club/car-sharing opportunities in the centre of Todmorden.
I would like to see Water Street made into a pedestrianised area as re cobbled as this thoroughfare is an ideal historic link between the town centre (Town Hall) and canal side area.
We have some budget allocated within our Enabling Active Travel project for general pedestrian improvements around the town centre. Todmorden has also got a Corridor Investment Programme being delivered by West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Calderdale Council which is going to do some improvements. I can’t categorically say about the ability to fully pedestrianise Water Street, but it’s on our radar.
There’s a few complexities around traffic circulation in and out of that space and delivery vehicles loading, refuse vehicles etc. that need to be worked through. But in terms of looking at enhancing the environment of Water Street and looking at making it more pedestrian-friendly, that’s definitely in there. The details are going to have to be worked out in the next project stage.
Is there a proposal for the side of the Town Hall to be pedestrianised?
Again, the Corridor Improvement Programme has made some comments about that but the masterplan that Irena was pulling together for the heart of the town centre was looking at public realm improvements around there. Again, whether it’ll be fully pedestrianised or not still needs to be worked out in the detail, but the environment would be uplifted and made more pedestrian-friendly definitely.
Have you factored in the inclusion of increased crossing points across the main road, both to slow traffic through the valley and to increase access to both/all sides of the town centre?
Yes, the Corridor Improvement Programme in Todmorden, which has already secured funding and will be progressed during 2021 and 2022, will provide additional crossing points of Burnley Road and Halifax Road near the Town Hall. There will also be an additional puffin crossing on the Halifax Road between Sanworth Street and Hey Street.
Proposals in our “Active Todmorden” project include enhancements to the walking and cycling network along the 3 main spines of Rochdale Canal east, Rochdale Canal south and Burnley Road. The latter two projects envisage enhanced crossing facilities of the Rochdale Road and Burnley Road at various points. The detailed design of these facilities will be developed in the next project stage, from April 2021.
Local Visitor Accommodation Questions
Sounds like the very popular idea of a community built and run straw bale hotel has been dropped if you are already talking to local builders about a hotel on Lever Street. Is this correct?
A plan was proposed for a hotel and that was specified as straw bale by the proposers. The construction method is indeed a popular idea.
Market evidence for the demand is what the government funders will ask for. Last-minute discussions are ongoing about how the board can present a proposal for any type of guest accommodation without solid market evidence of demand. And we are actively trying to help source that evidence.
The board are not having any direct conversations with builders about Lever Street as that is not our remit.
The Queens Hotel is the first thing visitors see when they come out of the train station. It is already a hotel, would it be a possibility to extend accommodation? Not sure if the leaseholder will reopen following Covid?
This is a similar situation to the Onestop building in that it would have been expensive, as it would’ve required us to buy it off the owner. It was up for auction and just before we finalised our plans we were told that it had been bought after the auction. The auction didn’t go ahead, it failed, but someone has bought it.
So we are hoping that that person is going to turn it into decent, worthwhile premises and obviously when we know what’s happening with it, we will be approaching them and seeing if we can work with them. It might influence what we do with our Lever Street hotel/hostel. But every time you’re looking at a private property like that it can involve huge costs in trying to compensate the owner.
Communal Spaces Questions
I’m concerned that the development of a proper town square is still missing. The Pollination St. area is great, but it is only used at times of festivals and I feel it could be much more of an all year round community space, including some of the affordable housing and retail outlets.
The size of the spaces we’re proposing are big enough to contain about 4000 people standing up for a festival. We understand that this is about the largest size of a festival that is held in the town. It’s very easy to overblow the size of a public space and make it look very empty if it’s not in use. So it’s a very fine judgment how big the public space needs to be.
We have two additional spaces which could be integrated – the space where the open market is at the moment which is elevated and an ideal stage area – and also the Rose Street car park opposite the Methodist Chapel. These two can be brought into the public realm for bigger events, so we did feel from an urban design point of view that this was the perfect size for a square for the town.
I feel that the area between the Methodist Church and the Post Office and shops could be developed as a community space...
“Currently, we have a car park right in the centre of town and looking forward to the big changes in car use coming up in the next couple of decades with the phasing out of fossil fuel cars, this positioning of the car park may look very out of date. I have read that electric cars may lead to much less car ownership and more short term of hiring cars for example. Could the car park not be removed right from the centre and the far end of it be extended to create a large community space in amongst the shops and the market. It would still only be a very short walk from the car to shops.”
It’s a lovely space. We will have 12 months to develop the ideas and these comments will be incredibly helpful. It would be nice if people who have views and passions could join in the Citizens’ Assembly to help shape these projects in the way you want them to be shaped.
Are there projects to shift the town centre away from the roundabout and into Bramshe Square and make it into a better civic space? And are there plans to make the river more visible there?
Yes, I think the idea is very much that there is a new civic space right in the heart of the town and we showed some images of how that could be achieved.
In terms of connection to the river that has been raised several times and there is an obvious place where a connection could be created. We’re showing a space next to the bridge which then continues across Pollination Garden which could be opened onto the river, but there is an issue there though.
There are some flood defences being installed by the Environment Agency so there is a negotiation to be had about whether these can be opened up. There’s a conflict between protection and enjoyment, So I think this is something to investigate with detailed technical design at the next stage.
The Onestop/Post Office building is the biggest eyesore in town. Could this be demolished/refreshed?
Yes, I agree in many ways and there was a real desire among a number of Board members to do that. When we looked at the situation the owners of that block, which of course includes the Post Office and another couple of shops and the Onestop, have a number of long leases. So it’s very valuable to them and even if we managed to purchase the freehold in effect, we would then have to buyout the leaseholders and it became, one, very costly – in fact a significant part of the £25m – and two, we also began to have concerns about the deliverability of it within the time frame – because we’ve got to spend this money by 2024/ 25. So, unfortunately, it’s with regret we don’t think we’re going to be able to do that.
Has anything been suggested to improve the boarded off area between Lidl and the Health Centre? This could be a fantastic gateway site but is just an eyesore at the moment.
A1: No we haven’t considered it but as we move forward in the spatial planning for the town those blighted areas we’d want to do something positive about. It can be difficult when other people own sites – sometimes we don’t think about site ownership. Site ownerships that are within the council’s remit is one thing, sites that are privately owned by people outside the town makes it very difficult in time frames to deal with. But as passionate local Todmordians, we wouldn’t want to see blighted areas like that.
A2: Todmorden Civic Pride produced a document, a compilation of projects that they put forward as potential projects that we should look at and we’ve looked at some of them. Included in that document was that area and bringing access to the canal from that part of the town centre, so it’s not something we have ignored. We have got documentation and representation across that, but as Pam says it’s something that we’d look at in general, rather than as a specific project.
Are there any plans to open up the river. This has to be balanced with flood defences, but Mytholmroyd and Hebden you can enjoy the river not no chance in Tod?
Access to the river has rather been challenged by the flood defence work, but the project down at Walsden Riverside does have access to the River. There is clearly an opportunity to open up to the River on that town centre site, but there is a flood risk. None of this has been worked up yet.
There are solutions, I’m thinking of in Hebden Bridge where the wavy steps are they are thinking of a flood barrier that raises to stop flooding of the street. Something like that could be possible but that would obviously be up to the designers.
Again, from all the consultations there has always been a desire to open the to the river to give some facility there and we’ve included it in the plans at the moment.
Walsden Neighbourhood Watch were hoping to be given permission to turn the Walsden library site into a community garden, our business plan has been sent to Todmorden Council. Is there any capacity for the Walsden NW to work with you in the development of this site?
The answer is yes, we’d be more than happy to talk about that and I think Beate Kubitz has already responded here in the chat.
“I am happy to talk about the Walsden plans. Please call me 07974 369240 / email@example.com”
Regarding the park - the tennis courts need development. Todmorden Tennis Club have been working hard with the LTA and CMBC to make progress. Even Visit Tod mention tennis courts, yet there is only one poor court available!
There’s a whole raft of projects in the park.
What we’re wanting to do is to work with the Bowling Association, the Tennis Club, the new Fielden Centre and the Wheels Park. One of the key problems as everyone knows is the issue of flooding which is why we’re funding Riverside in Walsden and we’re wanting to work in a collaborative way to make sure that what we can’t provide in Centre Vale can be provided at Riverside. So yes, we will be considering tennis provision as part of Centre Vale.
Is refurbishment of the shelters in Centre Vale park part of the park project?
Even better news on that one. We’re going to be able to fund that through the Accelerator Funding that we’ve already got and they should be improved in the next couple of months.
Could an Exercise Park be put in the park so everyone as the chance for exercise?
No specific plans have been drawn up for the park and there will consultations ongoing. The proposal has been noted and passed to those involved in the park project for consideration.
Was Riverside also being looked at for development of a decent 3G football facility?
Yes, it is one of the main proposals for Riverside. Discussions are taking place with the FA and a feasibility study is underway.
Local Business & Skills Questions
Can you talk a bit more about support for local small businesses? These ideas are great but local people need a decent income so we as well as visitors can take advantage of the new facilities.
A1: The bottom line is this is a capital spend, this is a building spend and much of the support is ‘revenue’. As we move forward with these, we absolutely need to make sure we have other external funding streams in support of the initiatives we’re investing in. That gives us over the next 12 months opportunities to make representations either to West Yorkshire Combined Authority or to the Leeds City Region, or whoever is the appropriate funding body to make sure that we’re not just building white elephants but actually that we’re building opportunities through which the revenue streams from other people can begin to support local businesses, local school children or whoever it is. So it’s not to be lost but it’s all power to the elbow if every one of us to make sure that we’re finding funding streams in support of this particular programme.
A2: We do have a very active Business Network in Todmorden now – Todconnect – and I think some of their representatives are on this call. Whilst we can’t fund any actions by them I think the Board would be very supportive, in fact, one of their representatives sits on the Board, so they are connected in a real sense to the Board’s activities. That’s the channel that we can develop to ensure that small businesses get more support and that would be through the Business Network.
Some of the shopfronts in the town are not really in keeping with the heritage of the town. Does the council or any other body (ie planning) have any leverage on matters such as this?
Funnily enough, I have had a conversation with our conservation officer exactly about this. I know that there are other places that have got a grant. In Sowerby Bridge they’ve got a grant scheme, so we contribute part. or Historic England contributes part, and the owners contribute part. I think it’s another one of those things as Pam says that’s a great idea, but not necessarily fundable through the Town Fund. But we will be working to see if we can get some other funding to support it.
Great efforts have been undertaken to rebuild the Open Market and this would lead to at least full occupancy of the existing stall provision post Covid...
“There are occupancy agreements in place for traders and it would be of great value to understand what the town’s aspirations are in regards to particularly the three fully occupied days of Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and how these would work with any town centre events?”
What we are talking about is a proposition where we want to pull investment from Government towards and then a lot of conversations about the details to make sure we are not dropping any of our prizes as we move towards something that the town deems to be an opportunity. So it’s not all worked out yet, but these are the sorts of comments we need to take on board as we move forward.
To what extent have the team thought their proposals would offer work/training opportunities to the currently low skilled and unemployed in Tod. With a Food Bank hat on, that's rather where my concerns lie.
This is a capital program and not a program that would fund training programs. However, the whole point is to build the infrastructure within which people can gain skills and experience and be a springboard to future jobs.
We would hope that the thinking behind for example the community kitchen In the Learning Centre and the thinking behind the Food Centre next to the market could combine to make sure that what we are doing is upskilling the local community, particularly in the area of food.
Are there opportunities to look at vocational skills, learning and alternative provision for education delivery which focuses on those young people who struggle to access more formal experiences?
I would say there are three areas.
The Murmuration workshops have an aspiration for training around the creative industries, Fielden Centre around heritage building, and of course the Todmorden Learning Centre and Community Hub have got a whole series of different vocational courses that they are proposing.
Although we can’t directly fund that because it’s revenue, we can support it through the creation of the spaces and we will certainly be working with all of those proposals. I may well have missed someone else that’s offering training.
Are there plans to increase digital capacity / introduce optic fibre within the town as I understand that all cable capacity is currently exhausted?
We are aware of issues with digital and we haven’t yet worked out the solutions to this. We’re looking at this in more detail at the moment with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
We have had some feedback (from the WYCA) about the rollout of broadband which is currently ongoing. We understand is that that is quite well advanced now, but we’re waiting to hear what that means, e.g. whether that means fibre to the cabinet or full-fibre, so it’s work in progress.
Murmuration Project (Cornholme) Questions
The Murmuration Project sounds exciting but technically I think it's in Lydgate!! Is it too late to think about the Frostholme Mill in addition and the potential there to regenerate Cornholme itself?
A1: It sounds hard but you’ve seen when we’ve got to get this bid in. We’ve got to get the bid in by 29th January. We really tried to encourage as many people as possible to put forward doable projects. If there’s something to be taken off that’s absolutely ready, I guess you could have a word with Karen, but fundamentally at this stage what we would then have to do is to start unpicking the entire plan, which would mean that we were in danger of not getting it over the line within the time frame which means that we are in danger of denying the people of Todmorden £25m. So it would be problematic at this stage.
A2: We saw it [Cornholme] as a priority when we first set up because it scores highly on the indices of deprivation in Todmorden – and so as an obvious place to try and put projects – but unfortunately nothing came forward. Frostholme Mill was talked about, but as Tim said, someone’s already got it and they’re going to make more money by building housing on it than they are than by giving it to somebody to come up with a more innovative regeneration project. And we just didn’t get any other projects in the area at all and much as we’d hoped to, we weren’t able to put anything into the plan.
Can I just say about Frostholme, as with both the Queen’s Hotel and Onestop building, it would have been expensive, as it would’ve required us to buy it off the owner.
The advantage of the Murmuration Project up at Robin Wood Mill is that they will be renting space in a premises which has other things going on in it, so there isn’t that need to find the capital to actually buy the building, it’s a case of renovating that particular part of the building.
With the Murmuration Project, would this encompass a number of different types of workshop and office space? What do we know about the level of demand?
With the Murmuration workshops, the idea is to have several different shared built creation spaces, such as a metal shop, woodshop, ceramics, digital, 3D printing and more traditional printing. So various spaces can do training and also local artists can hire out more expensive equipment and have access to a higher quality of stuff, which we think will create a lot more opportunities for people in the creative industries around town – but also as a training element for younger people and for people who are switching into creative industries. There will also be some elements of having individual workshop spaces as well.
Another element is turning one of the areas into a cafe and smaller performance / rehearsal venue, so an opportunity to have smaller performances and some outdoor street theatre and some areas in what is now the car park.
I just wanted to refer back to the previous comment. We did look at a lot of other mill areas around town, but this was definitely the most attractive because the owners are already very supportive of a lot of local artists and they had a lot of great spaces that were underutilized. So this is taking some of the spaces, which are just used for storage, and turning it into something exciting.
There was another part of the question, which was about the level of demand. It was sort of word of mouth in the creative industries here and I started an arts Facebook group to try and find out what people were looking for and people kept saying “access to space” and things like this. We didn’t want to make a proposal that was just specifically about helping a handful of artists getting a great studio space, but something more shared spaces and having lots of people having access to higher quality professional tools and that’s the aspiration for this space.
Food Hub/Enterprise Centre Questions
I’m struck that food and tourism are not known for higher quality and higher income jobs. Could the Enterprise Centre also be oriented to business startups?
There will be commercial opportunities on the 1st floor, business startups are really important. That the centre will be a social enterprise centre doesn’t mean that we’ll only have social enterprises, so this is about what’s appropriate for the town.
The point around food is that historically it might have been a low-income sector, but as we move into the future you wouldn’t expect me (Pam) with the interest I have to see it as a second rate industry to be engaged with. I think it will be far more than that and that’s the whole point and that’s the thing about having food in the centre of our town next to our fantastic market.
Can we hear more about the food hub? Can we expect to get existing local farmers directly involved?
It’s early days, but absolutely. This isn’t about importing someone who’s got nothing to do with Tod to set up a café, this is about taking forward the spirit of Incredible Edible basically, although it’s not an Incredible Edible project per se.
It’s about making sure that we’ve got a Centre for knowledge around the importance of local food, soils and the like, and we haven’t worked this up yet. It’s very early days. Better local links, lower carbon footprint, investing in local supply chains. This is also about having an opportunity to generate income, perhaps through a cookery school, or other means that not only would run the enterprise itself but would contribute to the running of the community kitchen which is likely to be placed In the Learning Centre. It’s early days, but for anybody out there, there’s a lot of work to be done on this.
We absolutely see this is about kickstarting a local food economy and also upskilling people.
The glass extension to the market looks very nice, who is proposing to run this?
Can I just say that the pictures we showed were examples of what other places have done in their market centres. We do not have a final design – we do not have any design yet, but what we want it to be Is aspirational and wonderful and reflective of the developments that are going on around it so they were indicative. They’re absolutely not design ready.
In terms of who is going to run this, we’ve kind of picked that up with the question about is this going to be flogged off to someone outside the town. We would always want to see local people benefiting from these investments across the piece.
Community Engagement & Participation Questions
Sounds wonderful! Will all the new projects be able to accommodate access for people with disabilities?
A1: Every new building project and even refurbishment projects will be subject to planning permission and compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act, So in a sense, it’s implicit in the projects.
Aspects such as Accessibility will be picked up in that way and things such as carbon reduction. If anyone has read the Towns Fund Guidance they will see that that’s a feature. So in any project, we’d be looking at those benefits as well.
A2: Just a general point that proposals for cycling would also make places more accessible for people of all abilities – for walking for people using wheelchairs or with limited mobility.
Cohesion and diversity are very important aspects of maintaining a strong and vibrant community. What projects are the board considering to highlight these aspects?
The intention and belief of the board is that diversity is something that needs to be addressed very seriously. As far as we’re concerned it’s something that needs to be key to the development of every project. So it’s not that there will be a project about diversity it’s that all projects need to be about diversity – and we will be seeking to ensure that we can build that in with the community as we go along.
How can community get more involved with plans? I am sure it is on the website - intergenerational opportunities might be way forward?
There will be opportunities to become involved in projects through further consultations and more citizens’ assemblies. Our youth engagement advisor will certainly be looking at how the different generations can come closer together in activities.
How are the South East Asian and other community groups being involved in the projects? This isn't a criticism but a wider question around inclusion?
We are very committed to being as inclusive as possible. The Citizens’ Assembly approach will, we hope, facilitate engagement.
How do we participate in the Citizens’ Assembly?
If you signed up the first Citizens’ Assembly you will be on our mailing list and details will be sent out as and when we are able to run more events.
If you did not register or attend one of the events, you can sign up for mailing updates on our website.
Can you speak about how people can get involved in further conversations about any of the specific projects?
In the first instance you can get in touch via our website’s Contact page explaining your interest and we will put you in touch with the appropriate person.
Given that the leaflet that came through my door is captioned ‘Will You Help Shape the Future of Todmorden?’ - what scope is left for that given that the projects have already been decided on?
If the Investment Plan is approved by government there will be plenty of opportunities to shape accepted projects through further consultations and more Citizens’ Assemblies. And further inward investment will be sought to support projects not in the Town Deal that people can get involved in.
Youth Engagement & Involvement Questions
It sounds fantastic, for adults. I just haven't seen much for children and young people...
“My first question is have you asked children and young people what they want and need? If not when are you going to do this? Second is specific. I’m passionate about skate parks as they bring a massive amount to young people in terms of exercise, peer support, developing aspirations. Manchester has a great skate park COOP. No plans to include a really great skate park?”
I agree that there needs to be a clear focus on provision for young people. I hope that will come through in many of the creative/leisure projects and aspects which link to skills and enterprise.
We’re very pleased to say that there will be a Wheels Park funded through the Accelerator Funding. It’s been brought forward by Todmorden Town Council and we hope that this will be delivered within the next few months. In terms of the wider question of youth engagement, Gill is here from Todmorden High School and we also have commissioned a young woman, Shannon to help us around youth engagement. We are all acutely aware that we are rather advanced in years and we haven’t got that completely right, so we’re going to be working on that in the future. But the Wheels Park is coming and some of Gill students at Tod High have been involved in the development of that.
Will there be opportunities for apprenticeships and other learning?
Our youth engagement plans are being developed and we would expect some guidance on this to include proposals for using the opportunities in the wider project to offer various skills improvement options.
How are the young people of the town being actively involved to ensure ownership in the future?
A1: Getting young people actively engaged is very important, we are actively having conversations. We haven’t to date simply because of time frames and all sorts of other obstacles that Covid has put in our way. But as we talk about next steps through our representation around citizens engagement and the Citizens’ Assembly I hope it does become clear that we do intend to broaden the network of engagement and make sure we hear all voices and not just those on the Board.
A2: It’s worth saying that we haven’t got this right to date and you only need to look around the Zoom pictures (and I include myself in this) to see that we are all over a certain age. But I’m pleased to say that we’ve both engaged with Todmorden high school around the Wheels Park and we’ve also engaged a youth engagement specialist, who I think is here this evening, to work this up in the longer term as we develop the business cases and as we begin to deliver the projects that the young people of the town are actively engaged.
A3: One of the driving forces behind what we’re doing is that we’re conscious that we want to try and improve the skills especially for younger people so they can have better jobs and not have to go to University and leave the town. One of the projects that TLC have is around sustainable building skills courses which are going to be in high demand in the future and that has been motivating us when considering projects this is what we need to do.
A4: All that I would say is that it’s their future and therefore what we are attempting to do – and I think when we come to next steps you’ll see this even more – Is to make sure we have as broader church as possible advising how we best move forward. We know that Gill at the High School has already got a panel of young people raring to go. So it won’t be very long before we work out how best we can use their insights Into what we’re suggesting so that it’s both relevant to them and something to get behind.
A5: I will just add something there. Shannon is with us who’s engaged as our youth engagement strategist. Do you want to say anything Shannon, you’re very welcome to?
A6: I’m Shannon and I’ve been brought in by the Board to help with youth engagement. I’ve been starting that over the past few weeks. I am myself from Todmorden, if anyone knows the Shell garage, Halifax Road – that’s where I was born and bred. I have also done a lot of work in Community and specifically youth engagement. I’m currently based in the city of Leeds, So that’s a bit about my background.
From the conversations I’ve been having with young people in the town, because of who I know to start the process, I’m really keen to say that’s a massive amount of enthusiasm from the under 24 generation and I think a real desire to get involved in this stuff. Also to see how do we build new funding and more projects and I think there is a real desire for a youth space and for youth leadership. I’m really happy to be working with the Board on this. I want to hear all ideas – and from anyone that’s connected with young people.
If anyone wants to get in touch my contact details are – 07710 483123 / firstname.lastname@example.org
What is being proposed towards building not making flooding worse for Todmorden?
We wouldn’t be allowed to make things worse. I think we’ve shown a lot of examples of how we will work with the flooding rather than making it worse, by incorporating rain gardens into any streetscape and by ‘lifting’ housing.
We wouldn’t be able to build housing in the town centre at the moment because it’s a class 3 flood zone. So by lifting housing above the flood zone we’re making sure that we work with any flood defence on public realm projects.
Everybody now is very aware of flooding and comments from the Environment Agency are part of any planning application to approve the development.
Please can TRIG be involved with any discussions going forward about the Calder along Tipside? We have been looking after this space for 22 years now.
Any area included in any part of the town centre master plan will be consulted on if the bid is successful – and once detailed planning begins.
Can we improve the footpath along Riverside...
“TRIG – Todmorden Riverside Improvement Group – have been trying our best to keep this path useable but continuous flooding makes this difficult. We have a small scheme that needs a bit of funding to improve it. This path is very well used by people going into the town centre.”
This may or may not be included in our precise area of activity, but we believe there is funding allocated for improvements under the Active Todmorden walking and cycling network along the River Calder footpath.
At the next stage, a project would be initiated to consult on and start planning the upgrades and getting into detailed design solutions and costings. We believe this path has been identified under that scheme, so would be included for taking forward. If TRIG can email us directly we can discuss and clarify.
Is it also possible for the Todmorden Agricultural Show to come back to Tod and help with carnival funding?
Unfortunately, that’s not within our brief.
I can just say, as a response Paula as to whether we can use matting so as to not damage the flood work drains, it’s something that could be of use but I’m almost 100% certain that the Environment Agency would say no. They’re so cautious about what can be done on there it’s one of their issues around the Wheels Park and that’s not even in that area of the park. They are extremely cautious about what can happen in the park so I’m sorry but I don’t see any prospect of the Environment Agency being persuaded to allow that to happen.
Given the focus on events, has any thought been put into how they can still take place in adverse weather? For example, all new buildings having open ground floors?
The Enterprise Centre is yet to be designed but the proposed concept is for it to have a central Atrium that will connect the Civic Space to Pollination Garden and act as a winter garden serviced by the café, run by the Food Hub and the Active Transport enterprises.
Furthermore, the temporary outdoor stalls can be designed to provide a continued roof cover with total flexibility for layout out the space below so that evening and poor weather events can be held when the market is not in use. More consideration should also be given to extending the opening hours of the Town Hall so that the events spaces can be made available as back up for bad weather.
Will local architects be involved in the building projects or will the schemes be going to 'Iconic' practices?
At the point where any funding is offered to the town, projects will begin to put together their full business case. All projects will be different, but most will need to put contracts out to tender.
We would encourage the use of local tradespeople as that is good for the local economy.