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‘Bold’ strategy for future of much-loved seafront gets go-ahead

Bay aerial shot, Bournemouth and Poole - Credit BCP Tourism

A blueprint for the future of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s 40 miles of award-winning coastline to give it the renown it deserves, has been rubber stamped.

BCP Council’s cabinet yesterday (Wednesday April 13) endorsed the Seafront Strategy and investment plan, which aims to improve seafront infrastructure and public spaces for the enjoyment of both residents and visitors over the next 20 years.

It aims to improve the natural environment and biodiversity across our stunning coastline, support a move towards healthy living for all and will be used to attract commercial leisure investment to help boost the local economy.

Councillor Mohan Iyengar, Portfolio Holder for Tourism and Active Health, said at the heart of the plan was a recognition of the diverse landscapes and identities of different parts of the seafront.

He said: “The seafront and its many locations have a special place in the hearts of our residents.

“It provides a highly valued community space for residents, a diverse range of natural habitats and sits at the heart of a £1.1bn local tourism industry.

“We have identified 18 distinct ‘character areas’ from Highcliffe to Hamworthy, covering 15 miles of coastal seafront and 26 miles of harbour edges.

“Our aim is to ensure future investments strengthen these identities and communities while prioritising the protection of our natural environment and heritage.

“As we make progress, we want to ensure residents can feel ownership and ensure we improve accessibility to the beach and everything here.”

Over the next two-four years, the strategy sets out how it will focus on ‘fixing the basics’, concentrating on plans to improve safety, accessibility, coastal protection works and carbon reduction of buildings and operations. It details how it aims to bring in ‘vibrant seasonal hospitality, leisure and events’ for residents and visitors alike, ‘encouraging entrepreneurship and inspiring healthier and sustainable living’.

This includes a pipeline of projects, such as three beach restaurants at West Cliff, East Cliff and Bournemouth Pier, major event programming, an environmental hub at Durley Chine and work to transform former Bistro on the Beach complex into a high-quality year-round visitor attraction.

Over the next three-seven years, the council will prioritise investing in ‘key infrastructure, public spaces and promenades, nature spaces and buildings. It will also prioritise cultural events and campaigns for residents to engage in and to attract more staycation visitors.

Over the longer-term six to ten years, the council aims to deliver ‘change in major landmark sites – transforming the identity for a new and broader audience of residents, visitors and organisations, nationally and internationally’.

Key sustainability impacts include proposals for new renewable energy generation projects and improvements to waste management and the natural landscape and habitats. There will also be promotion of new community facilities, volunteering and education initiatives and activities to support health and wellbeing ranging from beach sports and water sports, through to yoga, walking trails and improved access.

The strategy, which is aligned the Council’s Big Plan, was revised following the results of a consultation with residents in the summer of 2021. The consultation ran alongside the council’s bi-annual Seafront Visitor Survey. 

More than 1600 responses to the survey and 260 suggestions were posted digitally. Feedback was also taken from visitors to BCP Council’s roadshow events and from a number of people and organisations who emailed their views directly.

Consultation identified over 100 potential improvement projects, across 18 individual character areas along the coast along with a review of operational management policies along the seafront.

Councillor Beverley Dunlop, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Vibrant Places, said: “Our beautiful and varied coastline of harbours, inlets, bays and beaches is an integral part of our culture and a reflection of our three towns with their unique and individual flavours.

“It will be live and evolving, incorporating seasonal changes and making the best use of the seafront from day to night throughout the year.

“This is place-making at its best, strengthening the connection between people and the places they share; creating experiences and memories that stay with us forever. “

Chris Saunders, BCP Council's Service Director for Destination and Culture, said: “Our Blue Flag award-winning seafront enjoys a leading reputation as one of the best in the UK and provides a key reason many people move to our region to work, live and visit.

“Our outline investment plan recognises the need for significant prioritisation on improving infrastructure and essential amenities to maintain this reputation whilst mapping out how the council will take the seafront to the next level in terms of quality.

“This will have significant positive benefits, helping to attract wider investment and new businesses to the local economy.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

View the report here: BCP Seafront Strategy Cabinet Report OS.pdf (bcpcouncil.gov.uk)

Posted on Thursday 14 April 2022