What’s so great about Hastings and Margate? Great Yarmouth looks to seaside peers for inspiration
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
They are two coastal towns that have evolved in recent years into trendy haunts throughout the summer months.
Now, Great Yarmouth is looking to emulate the regeneration of Hastings in East Sussex and Margate in Kent as council bosses look at ways to maximise the potential of the borough.
The borough council is hoping to follow in the footsteps of their seaside peers as it continues to explore ways of taking the tourism industry forward in the town and beyond.
Both Margate and Hastings have become increasingly gentrified in recent years, as they hope to make the most of the tourist trade.
Officers at Great Yarmouth Borough Council have been liaising with representatives from both towns they look to follow the example being set by them.
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However, members of the borough council’s economic development committee want to see officers also delve into the history books when planning the future of the area.
Michael Jeal, councillor for the Nelson ward, said: “Great Yarmouth is one of the most resilient towns in the country, but most people only know as far as the golden mile.
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“We have to do more heritage. People often just spend their time on the slot machines, so I would be really impressed if we could get them off them and seeing what else we have to offer.”
Paula Boyce, the council officer who delivered the report, said the ongoing investment in the Venetian Waterways were a prime example of how this was being done.
She said: “The hope is we can use this to attract people to the wider heritage of the borough. Lots of projects can be linked together in this way.”
Barry Coleman, chairman of the committee, said he was also keen to see the borough’s history to be promoted going forward.
He said: “We should always use Great Yarmouth as a launchpad but Caister has Roman walls which I think we’ve missed a trick in not capitalising on more.”
Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour group in Yarmouth, questioned looking to Margate and Hastings for inspiration.
He said: “Yes, they are both doing well, but they have much stronger connections to London, so this place is a different world.
“We also need to be talking about the whole borough - not just Great Yarmouth.”
Hastings, in East Sussex, is currently two years into a five-year plan to regenerate the town culturally.
Its borough council has described the desired regeneration as being “culture-led”, with the ambition of making the town “a highly desirable place to live, work, visit and invest in”.
In 2002, the town was awarded £38m from central government for regeneration projects, which began the process of its gentrification.
Since this date, a number of developments in the town stemmed from responses to a resultant consultation, including the inception of the Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival and new higher education developments.
In 2010, the town’s pier was ravaged by fire, however it re-opened six years later following a £14.2m redevelopment. This was - in part - funded by the public, with more than 3,000 people purchasing £100 shares in a charity founded to bring the pier back to life.
The 2016-2021 “culture-led” regeneration strategy aims to create a year-round cultural programme in the town.
Much like Hastings, Margate in Kent has reaped the benefits of investment in recent years.
Most notable is the £25m revamp of the Dreamland amusement park.
The park itself has seen two relaunches in the last three years - first in 2015, before a second bite of the cherry in 2017.
It re-opened in May last year and included new rides, bars and food stalls and a live music venue.
Another significant development in the town saw the opening of an art gallery in April 2011 - the Turner Contemporary - which is seen as having been a catalyst for further regeneration.
The town has also been boosted by a high speed rail service linking it with St Pancras in London, which gets visitors to the capital in under 90 minutes.
There are also current proposals to improve rail links to the capital to make it possible to complete the journey in an hour.
The historic market, cheap prices and family friendly feel are just three things that make Yarmouth so great according to residents and visitors.
But the number of empty shops and amount of litter are cited as reasons for concern.
Kirstie Rolls, 29, who moved to the town in February, said she loved how friendly people are.
She said: “Great Yarmouth is so family friendly and my little boy really likes it here. I love living in the town because everyone has been really welcoming.”
Luke Hall, 17, from Great Yarmouth said: “I really like the seafront here, there is always lots of activities to do and there is a real buzz.”
Brian Grant, 71, from Luton regularly visits.
“The hotel and restaurant prices are really cheap so I love coming here. The market is also very historic and has a great vibe.”
Richard Smith, 61, from Great Yarmouth said: “Everyone just seems to be on the same wavelength and is really relaxed. It is a friendly place to be.”