The Towns Fund was announced in July 2019, it is a £3.6 billion fund for struggling towns across England to support local economic growth, it incorporates the £1.6 billion Stronger Towns Fund announced in March 2019.

In 2020 Mablethorpe and Skegness, both towns on the coast of Lincolnshire, joined forces to bid for £50 million of funding from The Towns Fund.

They formed the Connected Coast Board and put forward ambitious projects aimed at creating a more attractive place to live, work and play, and to boost the economy. In turn, leading to more jobs for local people [2].

Connected Coast was incentivised by a vision to tackle the challenges of deprivation, seasonality, climate change, and the economic shock of Covid-19.

They wanted to facilitate collaborative projects for the benefit of the place and people whilst reimagining tourism for visitor growth.

The Board pledged that the funding would help in the development of projects that will become catalysts to drive long-term economic productivity and growth. They categorised the projects in three ways:

  • Connectivity projects: To develop local transport schemes and improve digital communication
  • Regeneration projects: To make the town centres good places for people to work, live, and visit
  • Skills and Enterprise projects: To ensure that the towns can develop skills and support more small businesses.

The Lincolnshire Coast

Lincolnshire is the proud home to some great traditional English seaside resorts including Skegness, Cleethorpes and Mablethorpe.

Key demographics of the area include:

  • 3 in 10 people are over the age of 65
  • 55% of people are working age
  • 42% of people are economically inactive
  • Lowest 15% in England for health outcomes

The beaches are at the heart of the Lincolnshire coast:

  • Skegness attracts 4 million visitors every year
  • Tourism-related jobs are 4 times the national average
  • The area received the Blue Flag award  in 2017 for the 3rd cleanest beach in England

The Vision

The Funding Bid pledged that with funding, by 2030 the area will be:

A Healthy Community

Nationally recognized as a centre of innovation around health and care, with less than 20% of the workforce affected by long term health conditions.

A Learning Community

More skilled workers, earning higher wages, more business per head, which draws strength from the opportunities around environmental innovation, the visitor economy, and the sea.

An Enterprising Community

More business per head than the English average, which draws particular strength from the opportunities around environmental innovation, the visitor economy, and the sea.

A Connected Community

E-empowered through excellent mobile and broadband connectivity, accessing better transport links by road and public transport to sustain long-term economic growth

A Resilient Community

Where flood protection becomes a driver of business growth and the natural environment inspires higher levels of business investment, providing a distinctive and attractive visitor offer.

Mablethorpe

Mablethorpe is in the East Lindsey district of the county of Lincolnshire. It is located on the east coast adjacent to the village of Sutton on Sea. It is between the popular seaside resorts of Cleethorpes and Skegness. An hour in each direction are the large conurbations of Lincoln, Boston, and Grimsby.

The Royal Society of Arts identified East Lindsey as third highest in the league table of local authorities at risk from Covid-19.

Additionally, The Centre for Towns identified Mablethorpe as number 1 in the listing of the coastal towns most at risk from the impacts of the pandemic.

Connected Coast ran a survey approaching 50 local businesses, they identified that diversifying and strengthening the economy is key to the future of Mablethorpe.

In Response…Projects for Mablethorpe:

Mablethorpe High Street

The Leisure and Learning Hub: This project involves the construction of a new purpose-built leisure centre and digital learning complex on the site of the current Station Sports Centre in Mablethorpe.

The construction of a new modern 3,000²m centre includes a traditional gym, facilities for assisted exercise, studio spaces, a day spa, food and drink outlets, an adventure play and climbing area and a teaching and hydrotherapy pool.

The Campus for Future Living: The Campus for Future Living will be a centre for development in health and education.

It will offer, continuing professional development to clinicians, and both clinical and non-clinical medical placements linked to the Medical School at the University of Lincoln. The training and development of care entrepreneurs, as well as a social enterprise café.

The Colonnade at Sutton-On-Sea: Plans have already been submitted for the new colonnade, which will introduce a café, restaurant, gallery, and exhibition spaces, with viewing decks overlooking the adjacent beach, paddling pool and pleasure gardens.

A row of 15 day-let beach huts and six overnight holiday lodges will be built along the promenade. There will also be 21 sheltered spaces constructed.

Skegness

Skegness attracts 4 million holiday visitors a year, according to Visit England, it is the fourth busiest seaside resort in England.

On the North Sea coast, the town is 43 miles east of Lincoln and 22 miles northeast of Boston. With a population of 19,579 as of 2011, it is the largest settlement in East Lindsey. It also incorporates Winthorpe and Seacroft and forms a larger built-up area with the resorts of Ingoldmells and Chapel St Leonards to the north.

Projects for Skegness:

Town Centre Transformation: The focus of this project will be improving Lumley Road, which is the main shopping street in Skegness.

Plans include improving the shopfronts, signage, and public realm, as well as transforming several important buildings in the town centre.

A Police Training Facility: The former magistrate’s court in Skegness will be repurposed to provide a facility that will operate across East Lincolnshire for the training and continuing professional development of police personnel.

It is hoped this will in turn create more professional jobs, and work alongside the new learning campus in providing further training.

The Railway Station: According to East Lindsey District Council’s plans, the proposals for the station are “transformational, they will transform not only the station itself but the point of arrival for visitors, enticing them into the town centre through improved signage, interpretation and information points.”

There will be new retail units that will “create opportunities for businesses and support the local economy.”

The Multi-User Trail: There will be a new series of walking, cycling and public transport routes in the town.

The council say it “will improve connections within the wider Skegness hinterland and help to diversify the appeal of the settlement to a wider range of visitors.”

Looking to the Future

The Towns Fund is just one chapter of a much bigger story for Lincolnshire…

Further collaborative efforts are needed, such as:

  • The Town Deal Boards – linking the public and private sectors for the benefit of the place
  • Working with other Town Deal applicants across the UK – from themed working groups through to joining forces to attract further investments and promote Lincolnshire alongside the Destination Management Organisation and partners
  • Strengthening each project to deliver wider benefits – working with national bodies like Health Education England and the National Trust, collaboration with Midlands Engine, universities and colleges and NHS Lincolnshire.

Overall, the proposed projects will work in strengthening not only the perception of the coastal towns to visitors but also the quality of life for the Lincolnshire community.

[1] Gov.UK. 2021. Towns Fund

[2] Connected Coast

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In 2020 Mablethorpe and Skegness, both towns on the Lincolnshire coast, joined forces to bid for £50 million of The Towns Fund. This case study outlines the proposed projects of the Lincolnshire Connected Coast Board to regenerate its coastal towns.

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