Meeting hears how seaside town has ‘many strengths and opportunities’

Hunstantons South Beach, which looks like a building site according to Wayne Hemingway Picture: Chr

Hunstantons South Beach, which looks like a building site according to Wayne Hemingway Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

Hunstanton's southern seafront needs its beach back, a meeting heard tonight (Tuesday).

Ambitious ideas to regenerate the resort were unveiled by design guru Wayne Hemingway, who has been hired by West Norfolk council to draw up a blueprint.

Hemingway Design, led by Wayne Hemingway, has held a consultation meeting in the town and set up on online portal where residents, visitors and businesses could give their views on what the town needs.

Mr Hemingway singled out the beach as one of the main areas which need attention, when he presented his findings to councillors.

Mr Hemingway said: 'The number one thing people wanted were coastal defences that would re-introduce sand to the beach,' he said.

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'People expect to see is sand or pebbles. Hunstanton has sadly lost its sand, it's got no pebbles, it's got a beach that looks like a building site.'

Second to the return of its sandy beach, Mr Hemingway said the 500 people who responded said they would like to see a tidal lagoon for swimming.

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He said the key to Hunstanton's future was attracting younger visitors. He added a new generation of 18 – 25-year-olds was rediscovering the British seaside.

'There are an awful lot of seaside towns that are doing pretty well at the moment compared to how they were 10 years ago,' he said.

Mr Hemingway said the town needed more cultural events and spaces on the seafront, along with a more modern food offer.

He told councillors the town felt 'lacking in generosity' compared to other resorts. He said: 'Brighton has free play areas, you've got a pay play area for kids – what's that about? That's living in the ark.

'You've got a prom that is perfectly wide, there's a sign up saying no cycling. There's room for people to co-exist on there.'

Mr Hemingway said while the town had 'many strengths and opportunities' , such as the large open spaces currently occupied by car parks.

'We couldn't believe the scale of opportunity on the seafront,' he said. 'You've got to be able to park but things could be re-thought.'

He added the Oasis leisure centre was losing £250,000 a year and presented another development opportunity.

Mr Hemingway said he had found the town might have to wait 15 – 30 years for money from central government to replace its seas defences, which would allow the sea wall to be developed.

But he added there were 'quick wins' which could be carried out immediately, such as replacing kiosks on the prom with street food and pop-ups.

A final masterplan is now being drawn up by Mr Hemingway and his colleagues.

He previously worked with Freebridge Community Housing to regenerate the Hillington Square estate, in King's Lynn. He has also been involved in coastal regeneration projects at Lowestoft, Bognor Regis, Margate and Morecombe.

On Friday, he will be speaking at the Seaside Rocks! conference at Great Yarmouth, which will explore how arts organisations can help to revive resorts.

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