Monitoring the Northgate Project:- Autumn 2021

Lights still not fixed at Northgate

Westover Councillors continue to meet with Sedgemoor officers to keep up to date with the Northgate project and have also been taken on a tour of the site by Wilmott Dixon. However, tensions have been creeping in due to the failure for any of them to take responsibility to fix the lights along the School lane.  Westover cllr Brian Smedley said “This is the reason we have not put out a report and instead have increased our levels of anger at this absolute failure, which is hard for them to explain. At last weeks meeting they appeared to be at least having a go at resolving it, but dark nights are drawing in and they need to get a move on. It is now the most common thing that residents rightly express exasperation at.”

The unfixed lighting in the Northgate area

This is the latest report from Sedgemoor about Northgate.

NORTHGATE YARD PROJECT

From the start on site on 24 th May pre-construction works progressed well with all preparations mainly progressing smoothly and only a slight delay incurred due to a stray LV cable being discovered belonging to SDC. Brewery Field was also stripped of topsoil in preparation for ground levels to be raised in that area.

The project moved into the construction phase and this has involved some significant ground works, primarily the removal and diversion of an existing sewer from Blacklands through to Mount Street. This work was disrupted due to the discovery of a very large basement related to the former brewery use on the site, all of which had to be grubbed out. The arisings of bricks and rubble have been used as part of the works for Brewery Field to raise levels and prepare the base for growing medium.

Piling work has been completed across the site with piles being sunk to between 9 and 11 metres deep to Mercia mudstone. Foundation trenches have been completed on the cinema block with steel rebar cages mostly in place and concrete beam foundations poured. The steel frame is now being erected on the cinema building. Trenching is complete on the second building which will host the bowling alley and restaurants and concrete foundations partly poured.

As you will all be hearing and possibly encountering at your local DIY store, the construction industry is suffering material shortages and the project is having to cope with these issues
with lengthy pre-procurement and work arounds.

Lack of lighting in Northgate becoming more noticeable

The pre-formed concrete formwork for the seating will be craned into position prior to the
structure being made wind and watertight. This will be an interesting sight to see.

The branding graphics have been completed on the hoardings which present a great image
to the public over what to expect from the development.

TENANTS

We have of course secured our anchor tenants Scott Cinemas and AllStars Sports Bowl. The
critical path for construction is the cinema build (everything else follows behind) and Scott
Cinema are preparing their tender documents for fit out procurement which will start in the
spring of 2022.

We have had discussions with local restaurant operators who are interested in being involved in the scheme. We also have sub-regional / national operators keeping a close eye
on the scheme.

We have tendered for a new letting agent and appointed Fleurets who are now actively working with our marketing and PR consultants One Voice Media readying to approach the restaurant and food operators.

a view of Northgate’s unlit pathways (note lack of lighting)

COMMUNITY

We had several weeks of community concerns to deal with as the project started. Clearly this has been an uncomfortable period for local residents and it took some time for many to settle down and be accustomed to the situation. Council Officers and Ward Councillors along with Willmott Dixon have worked hard in addressing the various concerns that were raised with regular meetings, newsletters, website updates and installed notice boards keeping members of the public informed.
During the summer months when days are long, evenings are light and schools on holiday some anti-social behaviour around and in the site has been experienced. This has been challenging to address but each time it has been encountered, counter measures have been put in in place. The contractor has installed a second cctv camera to cover Brewery Field area where most of the activity seemed to be occurring.

What working street lights might look like (sadly not in Northgate)

LIGHTING FAILURES

The street lights alongside the school on the Celebration Mile route have failed and it has not been possible to locate the fault after a few weeks of trying. We have now engaged SSE our electrical contractor as well as Western Power to look at this problem which is now critical as nights start to draw in.

SCHOOL

Working with Northgate Primary school, pupils created artwork as part of a small competition and subsequently had their images printed large and installed on the hoardings alongside the school. This was obviously very exciting for the children and the winners received family tickets to the cinema courtesy of Scott Cinema as prizes. They were also featured in the local press.

Willmott Dixon have donated a defibrillator and cabinet to the school which is also available
for community use when outside groups are using the sports pitches.

The contractors have also completed the drainage connection from the site into the school
and as part of this work have turned a simple grassed area into a sensory garden and an
area to accommodate a small poly tunnel for planting and growing.

FINANCIAL

The Belgian motorway system can be seen from space. In Northgate you can;t even see 2 feet in front of you due to lack of lights

Monitoring the budget, calculating the spend and assessing risks against contingency is a constant activity. We know some additional expenditure will be required to address issues that have occurred and the agreed budget has contingency to allow for this. Currently, potentially 50% of contingency is allocated, but we remain confident we can manage within the agreed budget, especially now that the large area of risk that we faced with groundworks has passed.

We have made the decision to change the internal layout of the restaurants to potentially allow for 5 rather 4 units to accommodate smaller local operators who do not require such large spaces as originally envisaged. This was agreed to be a pragmatic and sensible approach by our letting agency advisors and gives us the best chance of securing smaller operators as well as providing a broader diversity of restaurant offer.

BUSINESS CASE

Currently there is no change to the business case with the assumptions remaining stable. We await to see how the market responds to the marketing of the restaurant units, both in terms of rental and incentives that will be sought. We will work this though the business case as required and keep Members updated.

Photos from recent site visit

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