BRID’S FUTURE PLANS: The ebbs and flows of town’s marina plan

A map showing the proposed Bridlington harbour improvements including the new marina and tidal basin.
A map showing the proposed Bridlington harbour improvements including the new marina and tidal basin.

BRIDLINGTON has been waiting for a marina for almost 45 years. Here we sum up the twists and turns plans have taken since the idea was first mooted in 1968.

l 1968 – Idea of a marina at Wilsthorpe is first floated by local businessman Denis Elsom.

l November 1970 – Meetings between would-be developers and East Yorkshire Borough Council prove fruitful – with 1973 given as a tentative date for construction to begin.

l July 1979 – “After 11 years of struggle” all plans of a marina and leisure complex at Wilsthorpe “are dead” after developers pull out and Humberside County Council wind up their special marina panel.

l June 1983 – The Bridlington Harbour Commissioners decide that an in-harbour marina would not be financially viable.

l August 1983 – Wilsthorpe marina could be on again.

l December 1983 – Denis Elsom decides against Wilsthorpe plan – but looks at a new site at Belvedere and the South Cliff boating park.

l January 1985 – Marina plans again shelved after councillors learned that there would be no grant funding from the European Economic Community towards a feasability study.

l June 1988 – £25,000 feasability study gives Wilsthorpe marina the green light.

l November 1989 – “Ambitious” £20million plans by East Yorkshire Borough Council suggest a Spa complex to the south of the harbour, which would see the 
development of a 500-berth marina, a 160-bed hotel, houses and a redeveloped Gypsey Race valley.

l June 1989 – East Yorkshire Borough Council leader Peter Barker says Bridlington “could get left behind” and that a marina “is a must” – despite protestations from Bridlington Harbour Commissioners that a marina at the south of the harbour would affect harbour operation.

l March 1990 – A shortlist of firms is drawn up to develop a marina at Wilsthorpe, which would also see a village with up to 3,000 houses, shops, a hotel and sports and leisure facilities developed.

l January 1991 – No developer is found for a possible marina development at Wilsthorpe.

l January 1997 – Plans for a marina south of the harbour are relaunched by the Bridlington Regeneration Partnership.

l September 1998 – Environment Minister Alan Meale MP gives his backing to marina plans.

l August 1999 – Councillor Ian Male calls for the Bridlington Harbour Commissioners to be abolished so work on a marina cannot be held up. They later meet with the town’s MP John Townend and agree to re-enter talks with East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

l September 1999 – More than 700 hundred locals quiz council executives over marina plans at a public meeting held at the Spa.

l February 2000 – David Dowson, chairman of the Marina Shadow Board – made up of partner agencies to deliver the marina – tells objectors to “back the scheme or condemn the town to decay and decline”.

l March 2000 – Bridlington Protection Group set up to oppose marina development.

l May 2000 – “Numerous expressions of interest” are shown from businesses to develop marina plans.

l August 2000 – Bridlington Harbour Commissioners withdraw from the Marina Shadow Board. East Riding council says this is because the commissioners wanted an open-ended guarantee of funding, while the commissioners said they wanted a guarantee that operational harbour land would be replaced.

l November 2000 – Marina Shadow Board claim “overwhelming” public support for a marina after a survery, while opponents the Bridlington Protection Group say their survey shows the opposite.

l January 2001 – Marina campaigners say the listing of harbour piers will not affect a marina development.

l October 2001 – Inquiry into marina begins. It resumes in February 2002, May and July before ending in October 2002, costing East Riding of Yorkshire Council around £750,000.

l August 2003 – The inspector who chaired the public inquiry, Michael Ellison, rejects the marina plan – saying it is “too big, too damaging to Bridlington’s environment and its historic harbour, and too vague about when it would be completed”.

l September 2003 – The Free Press launches a survey to see what Bridlington residents would like to see done next – the overwhelming response is a re-designed marina.

l December 2003 – Harbour Commissioners meet with East Riding of Yorkshire Council for the first time since the inquiry to discuss a new marina.

l January 2004 – Council urges “public pressure” against Harbour Commissioners after they pull out of further talks.

l May 2004 – Harbour Commissioners launch plans for a £10m harbour marina scheme.

l July 2004 – A new £35m marina project, at the south of the harbour but significantly smaller than the failed marina bid, is announced by the council and commissioners.

l September 2004 – Regeneration plans including a marina and a revamp of the Spa are supported by around two thirds of residents after a public roadshow.

l March 2005 – Harbour Commissioners pull the plug on £35m marina scheme and say they will go it alone with their in-harbour scheme. The owner of Bridlington Links bans commissioners from the golf course, and the Chamber of Trade urges them to resign.

l May 2005 – Plans are mooted for a two-phased marina – incorporating the best of the council’s and the harbour commissioner’s plans.

l July 2008 – A “landmark” agreement between commissioners, council and Yorkshire Forward sees plans unveiled for a 320-berth marina.

l April 2009 – Expert surveys say there is no reason why the 320-berth marina should not work.

l August 2009 – £200m Area Action Plan unveiled by the council – including marina plans.

l March 2010 – Outline scheme of marina plan agreed.

l October 2011 – Bridlington Town Council and commissioners, along with some residents, lodge objections to the Bridlington Area Action Plan, which includes plans for a marina.

l December 2011 – Planning inspector Sian Worden chairs the first public hearing into the AAP – and hears concerns that harbour top development would jeopardise harbour operation. After the hearing, Ms Worden sets out “significant concerns” about the AAP which puts the future of town centre regeneration – and a marina – in doubt.

l February 2012 – The council threatens to use compulsory purchase powers to take land at the harbour for development, which is opposed by the commissioners.

l May 2012 – A further public hearing to address concerns over the AAP’s plan for the harbour is held.

l August 2012 – Inspector Sian Worden releases her report ruling the Area Action Plan to be sound, removing harbour top development but giving the green light to a marina. Head of Bridlington Renaissance John Lister says: “Bridlington has never been closer to getting a marina.”