BRIDLINGTON’S harbour bosses are once again set to go head to head with East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
This time it is to give their objections at a public hearing into the authority’s Town Centre Area Action Plan (AAP) covering the town centre and harbour area.
It sets out the future planning of the town centre and contains the proposals for development projects and planning policies through to 2021.
It will be run by an independent Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who is responsible for examining the soundness of the AAP.
Last time the Commissioners were in a public arena was as principal objectors at the long-running and costly 2000 public inquiry into council plans for a massive 500 berth Bridlington marina development which would have seen them lose control of the trust port.
They spend around £750,000, the majority in legal fees, to state their case before the inquiry inspector threw out the plans as being to dominating, too big and too damaging to Bridlington’s sea front and its historic harbour.
Since then, through negotiation, a mutually agreed plan for a smaller marina has been agreed between the Harbour Commissioners and the Council.
However, the council’s AAP includes a significant area of the Harbour Commissioners land at the West End of the harbour on which the authority envisages a multi-storey car park and hotel.
Chris Wright, harbour master and chief executive of the Harbour Board, said: “Originally, we did not object to giving up that land in exchange for a new area of land which would be created to the south of the south pier as part of the agreed plan for a smaller marina.
“However, the current economic situation means it could be 10 years or more before a marina and the new area could be built.”
He said for the Commissioners to agree to the AAP now would mean it would not be practical or economically viable for them to continue to run the harbour unless the new exchange land was available.
“We are a statutory body and this port has to be viable, it does not cost the ratepayers any money, it has to stand on its own two feet,” said Mr Wright.
The area of land runs roughly from Langdale Wharfe car park to a point near Rags Restaurant and hotel. The Commissioners say to lose it without a replacement would make the operation of their public car parking, vessel maintenance facility and hoist untenable.
Council suggestions for re-arranging those facilities on the same site in order to be able to proceed with their multi-story car park and hotel plans were also not feesable.
There were, said Mr Wright, issues about access, loss of revenue, and levels of swell in the harbour due to seaward extension of the West End which could mean more wave calming measures inside the harbour to avoid it being put in jeopardy.
“If this goes ahead there would be more disruption than if they were building a marina,” said Mr Wright.
The Commissioners are prepared to put their money where their mouth is and have taken on a London based QC to get their point across.
“It will be a very expensive way of protecting our interests,” said Mr Wright.
The public hearing into the AAP will be held at The Spa and presided over by Inspector Sian Worden.
It will start on Monday December 5 and is expected to last at least a week.
The aim is for the Inspector to decide if the council’s AAP for Bridlington’s future is a sound proposal, effectively, has it got it right and will it work.
A key question she will have to rule on is are all stakeholders and land owners committed to the proposals.