You've been awarded £79k funding for a feasibility study, what are you going to spend all that money on? Isn't it a lot?
The Feasibility Grant that we have successfully secured for Watchet is to pay for all the costs of preparing a development proposal to a point at which we would be able to apply for planning permission and put in applications to funders to pay for it to be built. It will cover a huge range of items; all of which are critical to being ready to apply and for ensuring the highest chance of success.
The funding is broken down as follows:
Stakeholder Engagement & Community Consultations:
This item is important so that we understand what it is that the community wants and thinks will make a stronger future for Watchet. £2000 will be spent on preparing, conducting and analyzing stakeholder consultations and discussions. We already have meetings scheduled with almost 20 different groups; including lots of community and business organisations as well as the general public. A further £3000 is allocated to a Community consultation; where we will have some plans and ideas mapped out for the Community to see.
Feasibility research on key Watchet assets other than the East Quay:
This is important to that we make the best use of all the town’s assets for the future. We have agreed with Watchet Town Council to consider other assets in the town alongside the East Quay, for example the Youth Club site. We have already invested many hundreds of hours voluntary work in initial business planning for the East Quay (to enable us to secure the grant funding); this work will bring our information about other sites up to the same level. £4000 is allocated to this. Independent valuations and ground (and services) surveys: This is important so that we start negotiations on a sound financial footing and with the fullest information possible about the sites. £6,800 has been allocated to this.
Asset strategy and options appraisals:
This is important to provide a considered judgment on the viability and sustainability of any development proposals. It is easy to think of all kinds of things we would all like to see in Watchet; the challenge is in figuring out which will really work and how they will be able to thrive in the long-term. £4,000 is allocated to this item.
Full business planning:
This is important to ensure that we have a detailed understanding of how any development will be funded and run. It will include all of the following: business planning of capital build and revenue operations, as well as identification and preparation of funding bids; regulatory & legislative responsibilities; covenants; accountability/governance – essentially these are all the steps needed to be investment/grant ready. £20,000 is allocated to this item.
This is important to ensure we are on sound legal footing in all negotiations with the Council, Marina Operator and other stakeholders. £4,000 has been allocated to this.
VAT/accounting advice and Quantity Surveyor:
This is important to ensure we are on sound financial footing in all plans for capital and revenue sustainability – including with a Quantity Surveyor on capital build costings. £4,600 has been allocated to this.
This is important to ensure that any development is visual and architecturally sound and to carefully consider how it will be laid out and built. £31,000 has been allocated to this item.
Where possible we will undertake work ourselves rather than employ outside consultants. Our professional backgrounds equip us well for this task – we have varying careers in organisational development, research and business consultancy, marketing, PR, TV and project management. The funding means that we able to be paid a modest amount for our time focusing properly on this work during normal working hours (we will each be paid for one or two days a week). We however anticipate that we will each need to spend much more than the funding will allow for in additional voluntary time and indeed have already invested many hundreds, if not thousands of hours in this work, on an entirely voluntary basis. We are doing so because we believe that Watchet deserves a stronger future. See ‘What’s in it for me?’