Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180
WEDNESDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2000
180. Can I just ask you both whether your vision
encompassed commercial activities within the canal network, and
whether that was achieved successfully; or has it, in fact, stopped,
the use of the waterways for commercial purposes, if, in fact,
they were being used for those purposes previously?
(Cllr Stacey) No; there was very little use, if any.
I do not think it has had any effect on that. It has encouraged
tourism use, both wet and dry tourism, so it has bolstered commercial
activity in that way; but, certainly, in terms of freight, there
was very little use anyway.
(Cllr Crawford) Similarly, very little freight, no
wharfage has been lost, we had no wharfage; obviously, the development
of the marina will encourage more tourism, so it would actually
encourage more usage of the river-front.
181. In terms of private sector investment,
how much private sector investment has arisen almost spontaneously
as a result of regeneration along watersides, when it has not
been part of the plan that was put forward?
(Mr Dix) If the SRB is around £3.75 million,
I would estimate, but I will confirm it in writing to you, Madam
Chairman, something in the region of £12 million plus.
182. But that is within the SRB programme?
(Mr Dix) This is what the SRB programme has drawn
into the Newark riverside in its regeneration; for example, if
the marina project is £350,000 worth of SRB, there is £650,000
of British Waterways money.
183. Are there any other comments? I was also
wondering, even beyond what is included in the SRB programme,
how much private sector investment is generated then to simply
take place as a result of the development that the private sector
(Cllr Crawford) If I could answer. The development
of BW, I believe, is actually as a result of the regeneration
of the riverside; they saw the work that was actually happening
inside the SRB programme and inside the defined area, BW is on
the edge of that, so a 7,500 square metres, non-food retail development
has come as a result of that. How much that breaks down to I cannot
tell you now, but I can get you the answer.
184. And I would be interested in any other
developments that you have seen happen. What is your experience
of waterside housing development?
(Cllr Crawford) We have a mixture of waterside housing
on the riverside, we have private sector development on the one
side of the river and social housing on the other. We have tried
to integrate the mixture; in fact, it has worked very well, so
we have a very comprehensive mix along the riverside.
185. So are you satisfied with what has happened,
in terms of housing?
(Cllr Crawford) Yes. Well, I say yes; if we could
get rid of the scrap-yard, I would like to see some more, but
we have an issue with the scrap-yard.
186. Are there any other comments on housing?
(Cllr Stacey) Yes. I think the canalside housing,
if I can go to the housing question, was a revelation to the private
developers. We had had great trouble getting housing development
within the city core, in Birmingham; Birmingham was becoming one
of these doughnut towns, where no-one lived in the middle and
came in to work, and we had been trying to kick-start some housing
development in the city centre and had not been very successful.
We insisted on housing as part of the Brindleyplace development,
the developers reluctantly agreed, brought in a housing developer,
as I said, we were flexible about amendments to the master plan,
and they were absolutely stunned by the response of the market.
And now they cannot get sites quick enough; and not just canal
sites but elsewhere, within the older urban core, within the city
centre, so, for example, within the jewellery quarter in Birmingham,
and so on. So it totally opened the eyes of the private sector
to what was possible. And I think that started off by the fact
that the location was seen as very good because it was waterside.
187. What is the approximate price range of
the private sector, water-front housing; have you any idea?
(Cllr Stacey) If you have to ask, you cannot afford
one, I am told.
(Cllr Crawford) Unfortunately, I do not come from
Newark, I come from the mining community the other side, and I
could not answer personally. I do not know whether Richard can.
(Mr Dix) We will gladly provide you with the information.
188. That will be useful, yes.
(Cllr Stacey) We will put you in touch with an estate
Chairman: No; we would rather you did not.
189. Could I ask again about RDAs, because there
seems not uniform enthusiasm from RDAs. East Midlands RDA, through
their Chief Executive, have offered us a sceptical view about
canals and their development and wonder whether RDAs will see
it as a priority, because they are not sure of the economic and
employment benefits that flow from that. Would you like to comment
(Cllr Crawford) Particularly in our District, I think
minds were drawn from the East Midlands Development Agency to
the coalfield side of it, very much, in the first instance, because
of, obviously, everything that has happened there. In our District,
we have problems, we have the distinct coalfield community, the
community around the river, and the rural piece in the middle,
so we are trying to encourage EMDA to engage right across on all
of them; and, if I were brutally honest, the direction was very
much towards the coalfield. In the last 12 to 18 months, after
quite a considerable amount of work, yes, that is now starting
to look into the other areas and is developing strongly now; originally,
I do not think it was there.
190. So the East Midlands RDA is now more enthusiastic,
(Cllr Crawford) Very much so, yes.
191. Is that the same for West Midlands RDA,
or Advantage West Midlands?
(Cllr Stacey) As I understand it, yes. I hope that
they could not be anything else, with the lessons that we have
had in Birmingham, and I referred to the SRB Six scheme, which
is corridor-based, and one of those corridors is the canal corridor,
where they want to put investment in improving the infrastructure,
in order, again, to attract the private sector investment to deliver
their aims, in terms of jobs, and so on.
192. You do not see great difficulty in getting
the match-funding for that, SRB Six; you do not anticipate problems?
(Cllr Stacey) I am not directly involved in the SRB,
193. My question is in terms of the European
Union decision on Gap funding; is that a problem for you, in terms
of your plans there?
(Cllr Stacey) Not that I am aware of. We will let
you know if there is a problem.
194. Could I move on now to planning, and I
am interested in your comment, Councillor Stacey, about if you
have got to ask you cannot afford to buy one. This is an issue,
is it not, in that not everywhere but there is a growing body
of evidence to suggest that developers are interested in the higher
end, the top end, of the market when developing houses along waterside
sites; would you concur with that view?
(Cllr Stacey) Yes, I would; yes. We did not see that
as a problem at the start because, in fact, Brindleyplace is opposite
a large council estate, so we were actually looking for private
housing to diversify the community anyway. But you are absolutely
right that they are very interested because of what they have
learned for commercial ...
195. Would Newark share that view: Councillor
(Cllr Crawford) We addressed it very early on. I mentioned
earlier the issue around social inclusion, we built it into our
SRB bid. But I would echo that, for a private developer, yes,
it is attractive, obviously, the riverside.
196. What about such things as, for example,
public access to the waterside; presumably, here comes a developer,
interested, wants to build these high-class, top-quality developments,
but he does not want all the plebs walking through, and so on?
I have seen some examples of that throughout the country. Have
you experienced that; in other words, a problem with maintaining
reasonable public access?
(Cllr Stacey) One of the parts of the vision we had
was actually to improve public access to the canals; and, as part
of our planning frameworks, we have actually insisted that developers
fund improved access. Now there have been trade-offs to make,
in terms of, well, you give public access to the canals but you
do not give them to that particular bit of housing; so, again,
the triangle at Brindleyplace.
197. You have led me on to my last question,
and that is about 106 Agreements. How effective are they, are
they effective enough, and what about policing and monitoring
them to make sure it actually happens?
(Cllr Stacey) I think they have been very effective,
once, as I said, we had learned the lessons and got ourselves
up to speed. One of the issues we are still grappling with is
about maintenance of the canalside, footpaths, and so on, which
I understand actually is not a requirement of British Waterways
to do; so where we have got all these improved towpaths, which
we make sure are done to high standards and are very wear-resistant,
and so on, the issue of who maintains them is becoming a question.
That was actually an advantage in the early days, that we could
get funding for their improvement simply because it was not BW's
job, and we could get access to funding; now it is becoming an
issue. Well, okay, we can get a development to fund an access,
or a bit of towpath or embankment, but who maintains it, and we
are looking at that now.
198. So that will be one of the mistakes you
could not think of earlier on, when you were answering Mrs Dunwoody's
(Cllr Stacey) Whether it was a mistake or whether
we have only just realised that there may be a gap in the law,
I do not know.
199. Thank you. Would you share that view, Councillor
(Cllr Crawford) Yes. The revenue implications are
an issue that I think we have to recognise. On the issue of, if
you like, gentrification, we try to plan that out; our riverside
walk is a circular walk with bridges so that it is open, it actually
opened up a lot more of the riverside to the wider public.