As the Cabinet member for Highways and Transport I propose, subject to a successful bid to Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) for Levelling Up Fund Round 2 (LUF2) for £19,791,819 to deliver the Folkestone ‘A Brighter Future’ scheme, I agree to:
I. Delegate to the Corporate Director of Finance the authority to enter into a delivery partner agreement with Folkestone and Hythe District Council, to deliver the transport and public realm elements of the Folkestone ‘A Brighter Future’ scheme aimed at improving gateway to town centre, public realm and town centre connections.
II. Delegate to the Corporate Director of Growth, Environment & Transport the authority to enter into the appropriate land and development agreements, commission detailed design and relevant surveys and the award of the construction contract, and all other acts and consents and any subsidiary contracts required to allow the scheme to be implemented.
III. Delegate to the Corporate Director of Growth, Environment & Transport, under the Officer Scheme of Delegations following prior consultation with the Cabinet Member, any further or other decisions as may be appropriate to deliver the Folkestone ‘A Brighter Future’ LUF.
Reason for the decision
Approval of highway improvement scheme proposals and authority to enter into a delivery partner agreement, progress with detailed design and award the construction contract.
Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) has submitted a bid to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) for Levelling Up Fund Round 2 for £19,791,819 to deliver the Folkestone – A Brighter Future scheme.
The scheme aims to address the issues that the town centre currently faces. Folkestone town centre suffers from high vacancy rates and an overall poor-quality urban environment. It has been struggling over recent years and has seen a 16% drop in footfall over the last four years which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Vacancy rates in the town centre currently are very high at 14.7% and the scheme will aim to reduce this through improved access and public realm.
The Folkestone – A Brighter Future scheme has three key areas of focus to improve Folkestone town centre:
1. Station Arrival and Town Centre Connections
2. Improved Gateway to the Town Centre and Bouverie Square
3. Folca, Sandgate Road and Town Centre Public Realm
If the bid is not successful, then delivery of the scheme will not proceed and no further costs will be incurred. The officer time spent to date on assisting with the bid has been met from existing revenue; but if the bid is successful this will be capitalised against the project.
How the proposed decision supports Framing Kent’s Future 2022-2026 (https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council/strategies-and-policies/corporate-policies/our-council-strategy)
Delivery of the Folkestone- A Brighter Future supports the first three priorities of Kent’s Future 2022-2026 as follows:
Levelling up Kent – Folkestone is a level 1 priority area as defined in the Levelling Up Fund criteria, meaning it is the highest priority for LUF intervention.
Infrastructure for communities – The scheme will enable the further and continued rejuvenation of the Folkestone area.
Environmental step change – The scheme promotes and encourages pedestrian and cycle travel to and within the town centre. The benefits of the scheme will help towards delivery of Kent’s goal towards carbon neutrality by 2050.
Options (other options considered but discarded)
As the potential delivery partner for the scheme; KCC were not involved in assessing the options for the scheme. FHDC developed the Folkestone Place Plan in 2021 to define the scope of the scheme. A total of six possible options were considered in the Folkestone Place Plan as follows: Station Arrival and Town Centre Connections, Improved Gateway to the Town Centre and Bouverie Square, Sandgate Road and Town Centre Public Realm, F51 Environs and Payers Park, Harbour Line & Tram Road, and Sunny Sands.
Following the creation of the six above options public consultation was sought to get an understanding of key stakeholders’ opinions of the proposals. Upon completion of this stage, it was concluded that three of the six projects would proceed as described in the background section above. The discarded options still present viable future projects however, as part of this scheme (Folkestone- A Brighter Future) will not be developed further.
The KCC options to consider regarding the scheme relate to accepting the delivery partner role or not:
Do nothing: Discarded - Do not act as delivery partner for the scheme; FHDC would have to manage this themselves. This would carry reputational risk as well as affect the relationship between KCC and FHDC. The timescales of the LUF2 grant would make it difficult for FHDC to deliver the highway works involved within the conditions of the grant. There would be no additional cost to KCC but time spent on assisting with the bid to date would not be able to be capitalised and claimed from the LUF2 grant.
Do something: Act as delivery partner for the transport and public realm aspects of the scheme, ensuring that the works and materials are delivered to a high standard and do not present a maintenance liability going forwards. This will also ensure that KCC has active involvement in the scheme design and delivery. There will be no cost to KCC as all officer time and overheads will be capitalised against the project.
Data Protection implications
A DPIA is not required for the scheme.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Division affected: Folkestone East; Folkestone West;
Notice of proposed decision first published: 20/12/2022
Decision due: Not before 18th Jan 2023 by Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Lead member: Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Department: Growth, Environment & Transport
Public consultation for this scheme was completed by FHDC in 2021 and 2022. Feedback from the public was largely positive and welcomed the schemes progression.
If the funding bids are successful and scheme delivery can commence, the normal processes of engagement with local residents, businesses, Local Members and parish councils will continue following the Committee meeting and the proposed Decision being taken by the Cabinet Member.
The proposed decision will be taken to Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee on 19 January 2023; if the LUF2 bid is successful.
Financial implications: As part of the LUF2 bid, a cost estimate was completed by cost consultants in July 2022 and is shown below: Item Estimate (£s) Construction 14,048,127 Construction Contingency 2,400,441 Project Management 1,217,713 Fees 1,816,629 Artists fees 600,000 Materials (Non-Standard) 850,000 Inflation 1,058,000 Total 21,990,910 The scheme will only proceed if the LUF2 bid is successful; and this will (subject to award) provide funding of £19,791,819 for the scheme. Folkestone & Hythe District Council are committed to contributing the remaining £2,199,091 which equates to the 10% match funding requirement for this project. Only the LUF funding to deliver the Transport and Public Realm elements of the project will be transferred to KCC through the delivery partner agreement.
Legal implications: FHDC will be the Accountable Body for the LUF2 allocation (if the bid is successful) and as such they will sign up to the Grant Agreement with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). KCC will enter into a Delivery Partner Agreement with FHDC to define the terms for transferring the LUF2 for the delivery of the transport and public realm elements of the project. This would only be entered into if the risks to KCC are deemed acceptable. Invicta Law advice will be sought prior to entering into the Funding Agreement should the funding bid be successful.
Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment was carried out by Folkestone and Hythe district council in July 2022. The assessment indicates that ‘there are no concerns at this stage which indicate the possibility of inequalities or negative impacts’. No key issues were found in the assessment and therefore any mitigation has not been included. Should the funding bid be successful, and KCC act as delivery partner, an EQIA will be completed for the Transport and Public Realm elements which will be regularly reviewed as the project progresses.