Seaside towns in desperate need of reinvention

A new report has warned that any seaside towns and coastal communities are in desperate need of improvements to transport, housing and broadband. 

The future of seaside towns, the report published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns, says that the challenges of peripherality in coastal areas can be overcome by improving digital connectivity and claims that the government should engage with local authorities, LEPs and businesses in remote coastal communities to understand how better digital connectivity, such as high-speed broadband, can be delivered.

The report also looks at housing, recommending a package of measures to help tackle perverse financial incentives to offer poor accommodation and support more regeneration of existing housing, as well as suggesting the government prioritise improvements to the coastal transport network when it takes decisions on planning and investment.

The committee further states that many seaside towns feel left behind by national strategies aimed at increasing economic growth and productivity. Local Industrial Strategies present a key opportunity for renewed focus on addressing the skills gaps, low-wage economies and aspiration challenges faced by many coastal communities. As LEPs develop these strategies, the committee recommends that they are given a specific requirement to consider the needs of deprived seaside towns and communities.

Lord Bassam of Brighton, chairman of the committee, said: “For too long, seaside towns have been neglected. They suffer from issues rooted in the decline of their core industries, most notably domestic tourism, but also in fishing, shipbuilding and port activity, and from their location at the ‘end of the line’. 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.”

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