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New seaside cash splash could lead to a multi-million windfall

PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 January 2017 | UPDATED: 08:26 20 January 2017

North Norfolk Railway 1940s Weekend at Sheringham.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

North Norfolk Railway 1940s Weekend at Sheringham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

Norfolk and Suffolk seaside communities to benefit from government grant which could unlock treasure trove

A fresh wave of East Coast seaside communities is today celebrating news which could unlock a cash windfall, helping them to prosper all year round.

The government has announced 28 newly-created Coastal Community Teams (CCTs) across the country, including Sheringham, Blakeney Channel, and King’s Lynn Renaissance in Norfolk; plus Leiston and Sizewell, and Southwold, in Suffolk.

Each will initially receive the relatively-modest sum of £10,000 apiece to make plans for economic growth.

But the blueprints they draw up will allow them to apply to the government’s Coastal Communities Fund for a share of £90m over the next four years.

The new tranche join 118 existing teams set up in 2015. They comprise local councils, volunteers and businesses and include Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Deep History Coast, Cromer; Wells-next-the-Sea, and Hunstanton Prosperity.

According to the government, the investment is helping coastal tourism regain its position as England’s largest holiday sector, worth £8bn to the economy each year.

Announcing the new CCTs, Coastal Communities Minister Andrew Percy said: “By 2020 we’ll have invested nearly a quarter of a billion pounds in our seaside areas providing thousands of jobs, training places and opportunity along the shore.

“We want to see radical plans of action and I’d urge these new Coastal Community Teams to go out and create a further wave of enthusiasm.”

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: “This £10,000 grant will help Sheringham to develop new projects and schemes which will benefit the economy of our fantastic seaside town and help ensure we have a bright future for residents and visitors alike.”

Sheringham was a national treasure and volunteers helped keep it vibrant by organising events such as the popular 1940s weekend, and the Potty Festival of morris dancing.

The Blakeney team will use its grant to develop a plan for the management of the marine waters inland of Blakeney Point.

In King’s Lynn the team will aim to make the most of the town’s heritage and waterfront location, starting with “a comprehensive employer and business needs survey”.

Michael Ladd, Waveney’s cabinet member for tourism, economic development and rural affairs, welcomed news of the Southwold team saying CCTs enabled coastal towns to guide the development of their local economies.

Existing Coastal Community Teams beginning to reap the benefits

■ North Norfolk’s Deep History Coast team hopes to hear this spring whether its bid to the Coastal Communities Fund for almost £2m has been successful.

The team aims to celebrate the wealth of prehistoric treasures unearthed on the coast, such as the West Runton elephant and Happisburgh handaxe.

Its ideas include a possible life-size GoGo Mammoth trail, building a new display space in Cromer, and new toilets and other facilities at West Runton.

Rob Young, head of economic and community development with North Norfolk District Council, said: “We want to spread tourism across the coast to the east, and spread the season across the year.

“Last week’s storm, which uncovered more fossils, shows that our coastline is well worth visiting, even in bad weather!”

■ At Wells, the team has helped set up a much-needed tent and caravan site on the edge of the town.

Team chairman Melanie Harriss said during the summer of 2015 the Tourist Information Centre had been turning away people because there were not enough camping facilities in the town. The new Blue Skies campsite, on the Stiffkey Road, was only a 10-minute walk from the quay and shops.

■ The Lowestoft team was awarded two £25,000 grants from the Coastal Revival Fund in December 2015 and used the cash to regenerate the South Lowestoft seafront and the historic Scores - a narrow series of lanes. It is seeking almost £1m to redevelop the area near Ness Point.

■ Hunstanton’s team has so far reviewed the 2008 town centre and southern seafront masterplan, and updated it with plans and priorities for regenerating the town. A comprehensive visitor survey has also been undertaken.

■ In Great Yarmouth the team has been planning a new “Cultural Strategy” and is making large applications for investments in the arts.

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