Council revives refurbishments stalled by Covid

By Kate Cotton   |   Dartmouth Reporter   |
Sunday 6th March 2022 7:00 am
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Dartmouth Town Council is planning major property renovation projects in the town over the next 18 months, many of which are overdue and were stalled because of Covid-19 restrictions.

The projects include refurbishments of the Coronation Park and Royal Avenue Gardens toilets; lime render refurbishment in the market; internal refurbishment of the ballroom floor in the Guildhall; Butterwalk properties fire and safety systems and external repair and refurbishment; and refurbishment of the Boatfloat moorings.

Dartmouth Town Council Town Clerk Charlie Pritchard-Williams said: “Much of this needed work was identified by Dartmouth Town Council property management team two years ago. In the meantime Covid-19 descended upon us. This has undoubtedly had a detrimental effect upon schedules at every stage of any project.”

Charlie said the funds were set aside and earmarked but the work could not be progressed as intended until the Covid-19 situation was under control and life was “returning to some semblance of normality”.

She said: “Unfortunately we have not been living in normal times and consequently ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ have needed to be adjusted.”

Charlie said many of Dartmouth’s property assets are either grade 1 or grade 2 listed, are in the Dartmouth Conservation Area and in the designated Area of Outstanding National Beauty. Refurbishment and repairs of such buildings are not straight forward and require multiple permissions, specialist materials, specialist companies employing skilled craftsmen. In addition some work can only be carried out at certain times of the year, for example traditional lime washing of masonry needs to be carried out in dry conditions.

She added: “This type of specialist work cannot be carried out by our small in-house team. The council has to source specialist contractors as well as get best value for taxpayers.

“Sometimes priorities change due to urgency. For example, the wooden shelter at Dartmouth Castle has had to be removed as it became unsafe. There is a retaining wall at Longcross Cemetery that urgently requires repair. Things like this can set back planned projects.”

Charlie said many of the renovation projects were identified by Dartmouth Town Council property management team two years ago.

She said: “In the meantime Covid-19 descended upon us. This has undoubtedly had a detrimental effect upon schedules at every stage of any project. The funds were set aside and earmarked but the work could not be progressed as intended. The funds are still there, and the work will be carried out now we are emerging from Covid-19 and returning to some semblance of normality.

“In the last two years we’ve experienced some difficult times but Dartmouth residents can be confident the town council is aware of the refurbishment needs of the town’s assets, the funds have been earmarked and work is ongoing to get it done.”

Dartmouth Mayor Cllr Graham Webb added: “When this council conceived and budgeted for this schedule of renovation and refurbishment two years ago, we never imagined that, because of unforeseen circumstances, so little would be completed by now. In common with every town council in the country we have seen our plans hugely delayed . As we come out of this dreadful pandemic we can now finally start to spruce up and improve our council buildings.”

Some of the projects that will begin or come to fruition in the coming 18 months are:

• Coronation Park toilet refurbishment – underway, scheduled for completion March 2022

• Market lime render refurbishment – scheduled summer 2022

• Internal refurbishment of the ballroom floor in the Guildhall

• Butterwalk properties fire and safety systems – modernisations completion imminent

• Butterwalk external repair and refurbishment – scheduled for 2022 – 23

• Boatfloat moorings refurbishment – planned for late 2022

• Royal Avenue Gardens toilets major refurbishment.

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