A FURTHER hearing to determine the future of Bridlington’s regeneration plans ended in another stalemate.
The hearing, held at Bridlington Spa last Wednesday, saw representatives from East Riding of Yorkshire council continue to champion plans to develop the harbour top and reclaim land near the south pier to build shops, a hotel, a multi-storey car park and homes as part of their Area Action Plan (AAP).
This is despite the concerns of Bridlington’s Harbour Commissioners, the Town Council, residents, and even independent inspector Sian Worden.
But Council Nora Galley, a partner with consultants Roger Tym, and representing East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “We cannot address Bridlington’s shortcomings by tinkering around the edges. We need to make big changes.
“All the evidence shows the plans will have a big impact.
“Bridlington is in slow decline and the biggest property boom we will possibly ever see has not arrested that decline. We need transformative change.”
Ms Galley said that the development of the harbour top was necessary to provide an ‘anchor’ for the two main shopping areas – the existing town centre and the new Burlington Parade development.
This, according to the council, creates a ‘retail circuit’ which will attract more tourists and all of the 92,000 people for which Bridlington is the primary shopping town.
The second hearing was called when inspector Sian Worden voiced ‘significant concerns’ over the council’s plans to develop the harbour top - asking for further evidence that the development was essential to the success of the overall regeneration plan after remaining unconvinced during the original four day hearing held in December.
At last week’s hearing, the Harbour Commissioners again asked for evidence to show that the harbour top plans were relevant – and told the inspector that a lack of detail in the council’s plans mean that the commissioners are unable to plan for the future.
Harbour surveyor Mark Trevitt, on behalf of Bridlington Harbour Commissioners, said: “The problem we have is this ‘fluidity’ in the plan. It is very difficult to run a business against such a fluid backdrop.
“We were hoping to get a lobster hatchery in the grotto but I have heard that fishermen will not go ahead until the outcome of this hearing. That delays us.
“We have a five year plan and we have no idea if we can implement it or not because we do not know where we stand.”
Mr Trevitt gave a detailed rebuttal to the council’s plans, telling the inspector that there would not be enough land to continue harbour operations if the development went ahead.
He said that proposed access to the harbour would be insufficient and raised doubts over replacement land and buildings to be provided for harbour operations while work was happening – especially indicative proposals for cellar warehouse space which Mr Trevitt said would be unusable and subject to flooding.
Michael Kent, of Leigh Fisher management consultants and Bill Schlegal of Jacobs Engineering, representing the council, said that plans are only indicative and details would be confirmed later down the line.
They say that the harbour top development is only the first phase of a larger marina development, which would see the harbour commissioners end up with more operational land in the long term and that the commissioners’ alternative for an ‘in-harbour marina’ would be more disruptive to Bridlington’s fishing fleet.
John Weir of Drivers Jonas Deloitte told the hearing that after a visit to Bridlington, he believed the town needed new leisure activities as well as restaurants and cafes, to keep tourists entertained for longer: “There is very little for the casual visitor apart from what has been provided through the ages and which is no longer relevant. There wasn’t even anywhere for me to have lunch.
“The harbour is attractive. Nothing we are doing is proposing to make it less attractive, but more.”
Coun Michael Charlesworth, of Bridlington Town Council, reiterated the town council’s objection to the harbour top development and produced a mock up image showing what he believed 200 residential properties would look.
Former ERYC councillor, and landscape architect, Geoff Pickering also criticised the council’s plans, telling the hearing that he believed money would be better spent on developing the existing town centre – and helping businesses currently struggling in the town.
Also raised at the meeting were concerns over the development’s impact on the heritage of the harbour, with views from South Cliff Road being affected and the listed south pier and slipway likely to be severely changed with a planned in-fill of land.
Ian Smith, of English Heritage, said at the meeting that while some aspects of the AAP could conceivably harm elements of the special architectural or historic interest of the area, a Supplementary Planning Document, along with policy framework proposed for the AAP, he considers that the plan will “As far as is practicable, preserve or enhance the architectural and historic interest of this part of the Bridlington Quay Conservation Area.”
The inspector is likely to make her decision about the AAP’s soundness in the next few months.
Aside from the harbour top development, the AAP also includes a new shopping district, Burlington Parade, which stretches from a new Tesco at the coach park down Hilderthorpe Road as well as redeveloping the front of the railway station with a bus interchange, a landscaped public walkway beside the Gypsey Race and a new market square at Bridge Street.