The Borough Council of Wellingborough is celebrating a number of achievements and milestones it has accomplished over the last 12 months.
This has been done through a range of initiatives, strategies and collaborative working with partner organisations to provide high-quality services for residents and businesses.
To provide essential temporary accommodation for residents facing homelessness or who are homelessness in the borough, the council has committed £3.8 million to purchase temporary homes, and has bought 19 properties so far, which is expected to increase further. The purchase of the first house in multiple occupation to provide supported accommodation to vulnerable people will take place later this year.
The housing team has worked with residents facing homelessness to dramatically reduce number of people in temporary accommodation from 91 at 31 December 2017 to 42 as at 31 August 2019 (to a three year low), and kept numbers static around 48, supported by the recruitment of three new employees. Tackling homeless and rough sleeping is one of the council’s key priorities for 2020 and so far during it has received over £364,000 in funding from the Government’s rough sleeping initiative programme to provide housing and support for rough sleepers, with 35 rough sleepers being encouraged to access accommodation during the Coronavirus pandemic.
It has been a fantastic year for growth in the borough and the planning team has completed 100% of minor, household and major planning applications within Government set targets. In recognition of excellence the planning service has been nominated for a Royal Institute of Town Planning award and currently, it is ranked in the top 5% of local authorities nationally.
Furthermore, the planning department is working with developers to deliver 7,000 much needed homes between 2011 and 2023, which is worth £2.5 billion to the local economy. Wellingborough also became the first council in Northamptonshire to adopt its Local Plan. One of the benefits of having an adopted local plan is that the council can better protect its local villages from unwanted character changing over-development. It is also making sure that homes are built to the best standard and have achieved the LABC quality management and ISO accreditation audit award for the council’s building control services.
Local land charges and Gazetteer have a lot to celebrate after achieving gold status for the land and property gazetteer again and continue to complete 100% of all searches within four working days again this year. They were nominated for a land data award for digital capture of the local land charges register.
Officers have worked with partners to address anti-social behaviour; new groups have been formed to improve multi-agency working, including the Hate and Anti-Social Behaviour Action Group (HASBAG) and Cuckooing Forum. The council’s new community protection enforcement officers are visual in the town working with Northamptonshire Police, and the housing outreach workers to deal with issues of anti-social behaviour, and managing an increasing case load.
To support the borough’s community groups the council has awarded £90,000 community capital grants and celebrated the opening of the town’s first 3G all-weather pitch at Redwell Leisure Centre, which has proved to be a very popular facility already in its short time being open. Late last year it was agreed the Redwell Leisure Centre should be redeveloped and a pre-planning application has been submitted for a new leisure centre on the site to become the first purpose built health and wellbeing hub in the county. To ensure the council can meet the health and community needs of residents it has bolstered the community support offer by bringing the sports development function back in house.
Prior to the pandemic, businesses in the borough were at the highest in the history. The council has been very pro-active in supporting these businesses through this difficult period, distributing over 80% totalling circa £15m to over 1,300 businesses so far. The council has started the discretionary scheme to support businesses that were not eligible for the initial grants.
There have been a number of exciting improvements to the town centre, including the redevelopment of Wellingborough’s Tresham College campus, which will boast a revitalised curriculum for students and adults across the borough.
The council continues to work with South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) and England’s Economic Heartland to ensure the key infrastructure schemes are delivered in and around the area that positively impacts transport and housing links for residents, businesses, visitors and people working in the area alike. This includes key support by the council towards the Isham Bypass to prioritise and maximise the likelihood of this scheme being successfully implemented.
Leisure and theatre providers have been hit hard during this time and the council is continuing to work closely with them to provide support to remain stable and be able to continue during the recovery phase of the pandemic.
The refurbishment of the Swansgate multi-storey car park is underway with construction adhering to Government guidelines, and is on target to be complete by the end of this year. It will provide much needed improved parking facilities within close proximity to the town’s shopping and culture, and continues to be free for residents and visitors to use.
The council continues to develop its vision for the town centre undertaking a consultation on this in March/April. Alongside this it has started projects to enhance the town centre including providing grants for shops (non-heritage related), refurbishing the Castle Theatre car park, improvements to the area outside the Tithe Barn are just about to start and relocating the market to make it more visible. The council is working on new plans and are continuing to improve the town’s heritage buildings with work progressing well on the Hind Hotel and grants being awarded for the heritage shop front improvement project.
Projects are also progressing outside of the town centre with work being undertaken to replace play areas and undertake other improvements in a number of parks, alongside that further work will shortly be undertaken to clear and improve the brooks within our open spaces and we’ve added officer support to the Wellingborough Waterside Group.
Stanton Cross continues to develop further and the second large urban extension at Glenvale Park has really taken shape. Both of these developments are providing much needed housing and in the future will also provide schools, medical facilities and leisure provision and both will feature large areas of accessible green open space something that we know is important to our residents. The council has also worked with Network Rail to deliver the electrification of the railway line and supported the renovation of the goods shed ensuring the heritage aspect of the site is maintained.
Work is well underway on the construction of the brand new flagship prison, which will not only provide a huge boost to the local economy, but also 850 long term jobs and a large number of apprenticeships throughout the construction stage before its final completion next year. The naming of the prison will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Resources Committee on 5 February 2020 approved that community funding of £300,000 be allocated for voluntary grants (£100k), health and wellbeing (£50k), community support (£50k) and homeless prevention (£100k).
Finally, it’s worth remembering that this has all been achieved alongside the huge amount of work that councillors and officers are contributing towards the Future Northants programme and helping to shape a better culture and service delivery model for the benefit of our residents moving forwards together.
Don’t forget to check the news section on the website to keep up to date on all the latest information from the Borough Council of Wellingborough at www.wellingborough.gov.uk/news