Funding blow to Lowestoft seafront plans

Ambitious plans to regenerate a large part of the seafront area in Lowestoft have been shelved after a bid to raise nearly £5m failed.

Ambitious plans to regenerate a large part of the seafront area in Lowestoft have been shelved after a bid to raise nearly £5m failed.

The two-and-a-half year project would have revamped the stretch of promenade between the South Pier and Pakefield, restoring the gardens, beach chalets and other seafront facilities.

A £3m grant was up for grabs, but has now been withdrawn because extra funding could not be found.

Paul Moss, from Waveney District Council, which was backing the project, confirmed last night that funding of £3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund had been lost because the regeneration group was unable to attract match funding of about £1.6m from the East of England Development Agency (Eeda) and the European Regional Development Fund, Objective 2 (ERDF).

Officials had wanted to build on the work done under the £14.7m Sunrise Scheme, which helped to regenerate large areas of Lowestoft town centre.

The scheme would have provided a new lighting system along the promenade and a major overhaul of Kensington and Wellington Gardens, the beach huts and the Sunrise Shelter.

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Mr Moss said: "It is a blow to Waveney and the community. We are now setting out priorities on getting certain works done that have health and safety requirements and secondly we are looking at what other small pots of money are available over the next few years and accept that funding will be gradually delivered."

Mr Moss explained that the Heritage Lottery Fund was particularly aimed at repairs, property and gardens with a heritage value.

"There are special requirements which must be provided to raise the items back to their original value. However ERDF and Eeda look at more creative aspects like retention of jobs, public spaces and environmental sustainability, so they have a different set of targets compared to the Heritage Fund.

Tourism chiefs yesterday insisted the funding blow would not have a negative impact on the number of people visiting the area.

Paul Thomas, chairman of the Waveney Tourism Forum said: "We need to remember what we have already got and what Sunrise has already achieved. We still have two Blue Flag beaches and businesses are up on their figures."

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