How a 'momentous' 10-year plan worth over £100m will 'transform' Grimsby creating thousands of jobs
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 25 Jul 2017
Unprecedented and "momentous" plans to re-shape Grimsby as we know it today will cost over £100 million, create thousands of jobs, "galvanise" new industries and could see a university come to town.
More details have been teased out about how some of the most powerful figures in the country have joined forces to come up with a "trailblazing" scheme that, if approved, will create 5,400 jobs, 7,700 new homes and boost our local economy by more than £216 million.
North East Lincolnshire Council unveiled the massive Greater Grimsby plans for the town centre, Alexandra Dock area, newly-acquired Victoria Mills and dock area yesterday, detailing how key relationships with senior government ministers, together with backing from entrepreneur David Ross and former Chancellor Norman Lamont, will hope to bring about pioneering change for Grimsby.
The elite team behind the plans hope the transformational proposals, embracing the borough’s maritime heritage and making best use of Alexandra Dock, will include a sports and leisure plan for the recently bought Victoria Mills, as well as further land acquisitions to create improved residential, business and education opportunities, eventually stretching to the Kazbah on Grimsby Docks.
Greater Grimsby Project: clockwise from bottom left: New cinema development; Frederick Ward Way crossing; National Fishing Heritage Centre; Alexandra Dock 'framework' zone; Victoria Mills.
Specific details remain strictly confidential for now, but what can be confirmed is that the council envisages an initial five year investment plan securing up to £36.9 million of new Government funds to bring forward delivery of the key projects.
To pull it off, the council needs to secure Heritage England funding - earmarked to bring the run down Grimsby Dock buildings back to life - to form a £50 million public sector cash input, which will be matched by private investors, many of whom have already made "significant enquiries" to the council about a number of sites on offer to development.
An 18 month behind the scenes process has taken place to get to this stage, which has seen the formation of "unique" relationships with important and powerful government figures, including Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Council chief executive, Rob Walsh, says the plans, which will be presented to Cabinet next Monday focused on putting the proposition to Government, are not a "begging bowl" for Grimsby but aimed at "arresting decline".
Corporation Bridge in Grimsby
Leader of the council, councillor Ray Oxby, described it as the biggest plan he's ever been involved with and a "game changer" for the town.
He said: "We have forged a partnership with the Government to provide a vehicle to develop the town. We have engaged with senior ministers and everyone is now lined up to a common agenda.
"We want to galvanise the town, to create value and opportunities. The time has never been better for us.
“What we propose submitting to central government isn’t just a bid for funding, it’s an invitation to join us in a locally-led partnership to redevelop the town and increase our contribution to the national economy.
“For too long as a town we’ve had our back to the waterfront. It’s time that we turn around and embrace it.”
The Greater Grimsby Project will build on the £20 million Riverhead Square cinema and restaurant development.
Artist impression of new development at the Freshney Place Riverhead development in Grimsby.
Backers also include former Chancellor, Lord Lamont, former head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake, as well as famous entrepreneur David Ross.
Additional and essential support has been pledged by Dong Energy, MPs Melanie Onn and Martin Vickers and ABP, who will play a vital role in spearheading the redevelopment of the port area, with hopes for some of the run down grade II listed buildings to transition into hubs for thousands of renewable energy and new industry workers.
And the council wants those workers to be local people, educated and trained in Grimsby. This morning councillor Oxby spoke confidently about a new university provision coming to Grimsby in the future.
He said: "We have ambitions of developing a university provision. Lincoln has done it, why can't we?
"Why shouldn't we have a specialised education centre?
"This is a new and exciting adventure for us."
Simon Bird, regional director for ABP Humber, added: "ABP’s Port of Grimsby is an integral part of the community of Grimsby.
"Over the last few months, we have been working closely with the council to shape our plans for preserving some of the historic buildings on the port such as in the Kasbah whilst creating opportunities to attract new jobs and opportunities for the future.”
When quizzed about when work will begin, councillor Oxby said that work is already underway and that whilst "challenging times lay ahead", he is confident that it will come to fruition.
Councillor Peter Wheatley, portfolio holder for regeneration, assets, skills and housing, believes the scheme will reap as many rewards for Grimsby as when the installation of the railway did in the 1840s.
Victoria Mills has been bought by North East Lincolnshire Council for £1.
He says that the time is now to capitalise on new industries in the town, "All of the aspects of this show that the town is viewed by the UK and people of great influence very fondly.
"There will be a big push on enabling housing and we are keen to develop brownfield sites.
"It's the largest project I've ever been involved in. We want to regenerate the whole economy and whole area."
The council report set to be discussed by cabinet next week outlines that a housing development installment fund has already been established using capital receipts, established from surplus land.
The 'Town Deal' will be split over two five-year phases, and the council says that the majority of funding required for the first phase has already been approved by cabinet.
Great Grimsby MP Melanie Onn, said: “It’s great to have a project that is proactively taking a vision of our town’s potential to the Government.
"It’s vital that we capitalise on the Energy Estuary label, as well as generating investment into our town for residential, social and cultural renewal."
Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers, added: “It's one of the Government's key aims to regenerate areas that have become 'left-behind' and in my discussions with Government ministers I'm encouraged that with the right set of proposals the Grimsby/Cleethorpes area could receive support that would achieve a major transformation of our towns.
“We have a Project Board with some extremely influential people; this together with ministerial support could deliver the change we all want to see.
"We've had too many false dawns; this time we might just pull it off.”