City Restart - capital and revenue expenditure
Decision Maker: Executive Director (Development)
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Restart package for the city centre following
To spend £100,000 of Capital and £134,950 of Revenue in order to support Oxford’s city restart.
The Capital comes from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) strategic funding pot, which was specifically made available for the city restart, as announced on 27th May 2020.
The £100,000 has all been allocated towards highways improvements which will increase the safety of the public realm for residents, visitors, shoppers and workers. It breaks down into the following categories:
> Social distancing stencils and signs on public highway footways and lampposts (thousands of signs and stencils in city centre and district shopping areas, which encouraged safer shopping)
> Infrastructure and enabling works to create safe public rest areas, large outdoor seating zones, and where appropriate, pedestrianisation, for hospitality businesses in St Michael’s Street, Broad Street, George Street, and forthcoming at North Parade (benefiting clusters of hospitality businesses which would otherwise not be able to trade viably or at all due to social distancing)
The Planning Policy team has approved the CIL eligibility of all of these measures.
The Revenue comes from the Government’s Reopening High Streets Safely (RHSS) Fund. This fund was announced on 24th May 2020 and its purpose is to help district councils such as ours to introduce a range of safety measures so that people are comfortable to return to work, go shopping or support hospitality businesses.
Oxford City Council was allocated £134,950 to deliver activities which contribute to the safe reopening of high streets in line with set guidance. It breaks down into the following four categories, which were identified by Government as the areas of scope for the RHSS Fund:
> Support to develop the City Centre Vision and Action Plan to help safely reopen their local economies (includes a refresh of the city centre action plan as a city centre recovery plan, a Gloucester Green and market recovery action plan, and a report which compiles the learnings from all the experimental pedestrianisations to date)
> Communications and public information activity to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely (includes three public information campaigns aiming for the safe reopening of Oxford’s high streets: early summer campaign focused on social distancing in shopping areas, which included guidance about one-way pedestrian flow on Cowley Road and the busiest and most constrained city centre streets; late summer / early autumn campaign focused on safe travelling from outside of Oxford into the city centre; winter campaign regarding safe Christmas shopping and hospitality. Between the three campaigns there is expenditure on advertising, design, branding, printing, designated staff resource, website creation)
> Business-facing awareness raising activities to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely (all spent on City Centre Business Liaison Officer, a new role specifically focused on communicating with city centre businesses regarding safe reopening, especially on George Street, St Michael’s Street and North Parade)
> Temporary public realm changes to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely (enabling works, including hostile vehicle mitigation, in order to create safe outdoor seating areas for small clusters of hospitality businesses. Works were undertaken on Broad Street, St Michael’s Street, George Street, Observatory Street and there is a small contingency for other city centre streets).
A Grant Action Plan (GAP) form relating to the RHSS Fund has been submitted to Government. This GAP form outlines the Council’s planned use of the RHSS Fund. The Council expects ongoing dialogue with Government before claims are submitted and the £134,950 is received by the Council.
The Council’s approach has been guided by the following documents:
The national High Streets Task Force .
Alternative options considered:
The Council could have spent less on directional and information signage, advertising and business support in the early stages after reopening, however this was rejected because there was strong evidence from Government, the public and businesses that the Council should be seen to be taking proactive steps to support people’s safety in the early stages of the lockdown easing;
Signed off by senior officers:
Tom Bridgman, Director of Development
Decision taken in consultation with the Cabinet Members for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford and City Centre, Covered Market and Culture.
Publication date: 07/09/2020
Date of decision: 17/08/2020