Action urged to reinvent struggling seaside towns

Seaside towns must be inspired to reinvent themselves to become prosperous and desirable places to live and visit, peers have urged.

A report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns makes a series of recommendations to set struggling places on a “trajectory to regeneration”.

It calls for improvements to education, housing and digital infrastructure, as well as transport, so seaside towns can “reinvent themselves with a long-term, place-based vision”.

The committee said coastal settlements which emerged as leisure and pleasure resorts in the 19th century have been neglected for “too long” and should once again be “celebrated as places that can provide attractive environments for residents and visitors”.

Brighton pier
The peers said places like Brighton have shown it is possible to reinvent coastal resorts (PA)

In the Future of Seaside Towns report, the peers urged the Government to prioritise improvements to the coastal transport network – blaming poor connectivity for some of the problems faced by many coastal areas.

They said poor links are “severely hindering” opportunities to bring about improvements to tourism or for attracting inward investment.

The report also called on ministers to promote initiatives to support digital connectivity – such as high-speed broadband – in coastal communities, saying doing so would provide an opportunity to “overcome the challenges of peripherality in coastal areas”.

And it noted that limited access to education – particularly further and higher education institutions – is “disadvantaging young people and acting as a barrier to growth”.

The peers also called for ministers to set out how coastal areas will benefit from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace EU funding after Brexit, and to increase resources for the Coastal Communities Fund.

Lord Bassam of Brighton, chairman of the committee, said seaside towns have been neglected “for too long”, and suffer from issues rooted in the decline of their core industries such as domestic tourism, fishing, shipbuilding and port activity.

He added: “The potential impact of Brexit on these towns, particularly the hospitality sector, also remains an open question.

“A single solution to their economic and social challenges doesn’t exist. What is needed is a package of strategic initiatives and interventions where national and local government work together to address issues such as transport, housing, post-school education and high-speed broadband.

“Places like Brighton and Bournemouth have shown that ‘the seaside’ can successfully reinvent itself.

“The committee is confident that if our recommendations are pursued, seaside towns can once again become prosperous and desirable places to live in and visit.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “The Government is determined to ensure our economy works for everyone and every place.

“We are on track to invest £200 million in the Great British Coast by 2020 and recently announced a £36 million package of support to projects in coastal communities through our Coastal Communities Fund and Coastal Revival Fund. We have also made a commitment to support towns to harness their unique strengths to grow and prosper through the £1.6 billion Stronger Towns Fund.

“We recognise the challenges facing our seaside towns and will carefully consider the committee’s recommendations to build on the significant steps we have already taken to help coastal communities thrive.”

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