New funding plans after loan request withdrawn for Caistor project
As previously reported, Caistor & District Community Trust had asked the council to facilitate a £750,000 government loan so renovation work could begin on the 2-4, Market Place, buildings.
Following a public meeting, which showed support for the loan, councillors agreed more evidence was needed as to the viability of the project long-term before committing town residents to the prospect of decades of debt should the project fail.
Having now spoken to their other funders, the trust has been advised to look for funding elsewhere and informed the council it will no longer require them to proceed with the government loan.
Trust chairman, NeilCastle said: "The Town Council did not vote to approve the Public Works Loan Board loan of £750,000, neither did they veto it, but decided tocontinue with further reports etc.
"As mentioned by the Trust at the time, there was now some urgency to make a decision due to deadlines from other funders and retaining the contractors.
"Without a firm decision either way, we reported back to our other funders and, after discussions with our business manager from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and our Business Support Manager from the DLUHC’s Community Ownership Fund, they have both advised that the Town Council’s delay in being able to make a decision put the project at risk.
“The funding landscape changes almost daily, and we have been able to identify potential funders to approach – at this stage with no guarantees.
"We are applying for a higher Community Ownership Fund grant in the new round of grant applications opened in December. This leaves a smaller amount that can potentially be funded from a commercial loan through a social bank. These forms of lending were previously not open to the Trust as the borrowing requirement exceeded the maximums available to us.
"We expect to hear the outcome of our new funding applications by mid-March 2023 and, assuming a positive outcome, hope an immediate start can be made on the renovations then.”
Meanwhile, town council chairman, Jon Wright, said the council continues to support the project.
"Whilst finalising our due diligence for the Public Works Loan and waiting for our accounting report on the financial viability of the project, Caistor and District Community Trust advised us that they no longer require the council loan to support the development of 2-4, Market Place.
“The redevelopment of this historic part of Caistor is incredibly important for the town and the group has done a fantastic job of fundraising for the project.
"We sincerely hope that the additional funding for the project will be secured, and that we can continue to work together with the Trust to bring the building back into active use.”