Under the Sea Change initiative the government has promised £45 million to help regenerate England’s once thriving seaside towns. The first resorts to be allocated funds were announced recently by the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham. Blackpool, Dover and Torbay will be the first towns to receive up to £4 million of goverment funding through the scheme together with up to 12 other seaside towns who will also receive smaller grants this year.
The Sea Change programme will place culture at the heart of this regeneration by investing in public space, arts, cultural assets and heritage projects to bring a sense of pride, enjoyment and celebration.
Many seaside resorts have experienced declining economic circumstances as a result of changes in tourism and issues relating to housing and transport. The Department for Culture, Media & Sport believe that public investment in cultural projects and public spaces can give a huge kick start to local regeneration. The programme will work to ensure that investment in cultural projects complements and enhances wider regeneration programmes. Culture is important to all places, but this programme will target seaside resorts as a means to help them improve the quality of life for residents, attract new and more visitors, and help restructure the economy.
In 2001, the English Tourism Council said “Seaside resorts have made an enormous contribution to the cultural identity of England and contain some of the finest examples of our built heritage. This is overlooked rather than promoted.” In 2003, CABE and English Heritage published Shifting sands which demonstrated that high quality buildings and open spaces can radically enhance the ways that historic seaside resorts are developing, changing and re-inventing themselves. Sea Change draws on the lessons of Shifting Sands, and following the Communities and Local Government Committee report on Coastal Towns in 2006/07 represents a positive response to the issues indentified in seaside resorts. Recognising the impact of climate change on patterns of behaviour, Sea Change also offers new opportunities to enhance the visitor experience encouraging greater numbers of people to spend holidays and short breaks at England’s seaside resorts.
Sir John Sorrell the chairman of CABE commented: “CABE believes that investment in design and culture can trigger the regeneration that England’s much loved seaside resorts need. We want to see exciting and innovative projects which build on the strong identity these towns enjoy and give them the best opportunity to recapture their original flair. Sea Change will be a catalyst for a brighter future through well-designed buildings, spaces and places.”
Sea Change runs for three years with £15 million allocated to resorts each year. The leading partner behind the initiative is the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) who are working together with Arts Council England; BIG Lottery Fund; English Heritage; Heritage Lottery Fund; Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the Regional Development Agencies. Local authorities will submit projects and must match 100% of all funding given in order to qualify for the grant with the key criteria being that the resort is in an area of social and economic deprivation which is in need of regeneration. For more information visit www.cabe.org.uk and search for Sea Change.