Final Glastonbury Town Deal project progresses to Government

The paperwork for the final Glastonbury Town Deal project is now on its way to Government for review, concluding the rigorous internal assurance process required to access this once-in-a-generation investment for the town.

The Business Case documentation for the Robert Richards Initiative was endorsed at the Mendip District Council Cabinet meeting last night (8th August 2022) and will now proceed to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) for the final step of the approval process.
Together the 11 Glastonbury Town Deal projects are set to bring £23.6m of investment into the town, representing the highest award in the South West and one of the highest per capita in England.

The other 10 Town Deal projects were approved for submission to Government by Mendip District Council on 20th June 2022. The Robert Richards Initiative had been granted a short extension because the specifics of the project had changed as a result of the Business Case process, although the objectives and outcomes remain the same.

Named after and dedicated to the first Chair of the Glastonbury Town Deal Board, the Robert Richards Initiative is focused on sustainability, bringing together the recurring Town Deal themes of education and training, green infrastructure and wellbeing. The key elements of the project are:

• An innovative website and learning platform produced in collaboration with the Open University, with support from Strode College, that will provide a comprehensive range of courses around sustainability, skills development and wellbeing, most of which will be offered free of charge;
• Additional sustainability solutions for three buildings already set to be refurbished as part of the Glastonbury Town Deal, namely The Baily’s Buildings, The Life Factory and Glastonbury Enterprise and Innovation Centre;
• Enhanced green infrastructure within the town, including 2.5km of multi-user paths and an affordable electric bike hire scheme.

The partnership with the Open University will be the first of its kind nationally, with courses and qualifications being specific to, and labelled for, Glastonbury. These will range from half-hour workshops to post-graduate courses, with a grant scheme being explored for the latter. Longer term, this collaboration will establish a template that can be used elsewhere, especially in other rural towns.

Overall, the Robert Richards Initiative aims to boost awareness of sustainability issues, raise knowledge and skill levels for local residents, and support Glastonbury in becoming a carbon neutral town by 2030.
Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke, said: “This very exciting project, with sustainability at its core, will honour the late Robert Richards, create opportunities for Glastonbury residents and enhance the town as an eco-friendly place to live and work.

“Getting to this point is a massive achievement, submitting this final project signifies the start of the next new chapter for the Town Deal.”

Glastonbury is one of 101 towns chosen to receive investment through the government’s Towns Fund scheme as part of its Levelling Up agenda. The Business Cases will now be reviewed by DLUHC, with funds being released on a project-by-project basis as and when they are approved. It is anticipated that this funding will start to filter through in the autumn of this year.

The Glastonbury Town Deal projects aim to deliver a necessary ‘levelling up’ opportunity for the town, bringing existing assets back into community use, and working with local communities to develop the spaces and resources they want and need. The vision is for Glastonbury to be a sustainable, prosperous, modern town and global tourist centre, drawing on its rural landscape, history and unique legacy.
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