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Golden Mile plans rescued

PUBLISHED: 08:54 02 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:56 22 October 2010

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Exciting plans to transform Yarmouth's Golden Mile look set to get under way in September after all - with the borough council borrowing £2m to make up a funding shortfall.

Exciting plans to transform Yarmouth's Golden Mile look set to get under way in September after all - with the borough council borrowing £2m to make up a funding shortfall.

A cloud of uncertainty had hung over the scheme since it emerged last summer that the resort's £16.3m InteGreat regeneration funding would not stretch to what had been seen as the flagship project.

Now the borough council's Tory-controlled cabinet is ready to formally approve the borrowing of £2m to fund the first of three phases of work, which will eventually see the seafront road transformed from Regent Road down to the Nelson Monument.

Its decision will then have to be formally approved at this month's meeting of the full council.

It is hoped that the first phase, covering the most important tourist area from Regent Road to St Peter's Road, will now be finished by next Easter.

The plan, first revealed by the EDP in December 2004, is to give the seafront a continental feel with wider pavements to allow tables and chairs outside cafes.

A new road layout will create separate lanes for cars and slow-moving vehicles such as landaus and bicycles.

The 21st Century makeover will be completed with attractive lighting and landscaping.

The cabinet is confident that the Government's East of England Development Agency will step in to support the two later phases, which will cost a further £4m.

The council's decision to take out a loan, which will be paid off within 12 months from income such as money generated from Gorleston's Beacon Park business site, means the Golden Mile work can proceed without delay - despite months of wrangling over the reason for the original funding shortfall.

Mark Barrow, the council's deputy chief executive, said: “To start in September we have got to instruct the work by the end of June, so the council has decided to borrow £2m over the next 12 months.

“This can be paid back from other investments and money coming in from such places as Beacon Park.”

In the ebb and flow of managing their property estate borrowing £2m was not a huge commitment, he added.

He said the council was working “very positively” with Eeda and he was hopeful they would help to fund the later phases.

“What's already been done has been a huge success and helped to spur investment in local businesses.

“We estimate improvements carried out around Regent Road have already generated £20m to £30m of investment in the private sector,” he said.

Despite the earlier funding difficulties, Mr Barrow was now confident - subject to unforeseen problems - they could complete the work on budget.

Barry Stone, the council's deputy leader, acknowledged the earlier “management issues” that had clouded the scheme.

But he said: “Now we are back on track. Everything is on course to finish the whole seafront, which is good news for the town and the tourist industry.”

Mr Stone said the council's aim was to “create confidence for businesses and create an environment to help tourism”.

He stressed that borrowing the £2m would have no impact on the level of council tax.

Bert Collins, cabinet member for tourism, said: “Everything is now ready which is marvellous news. We promised people we would complete the road and this is one way of doing it.”

Mick Castle, the opposition Labour party's spokesman on regeneration, said that after all the previous problems, he was pleased the scheme would now be completed.

“There is nothing worse than a half-finished scheme. We have to think of the town's interests. It is important Yarmouth moves forward.”

A spokesman for Eeda said: “The regeneration of Yarmouth is vital to the future economic prospects for the area, which is why improvements to the Golden Mile can only breed confidence in the town. Eeda is currently holding preliminary meetings with representatives from the council to discuss how the next stages for this development can move forward.”


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