TOWN CENTRE SURVEY: Bridlington Renaissance boss responds to the findings

Nigel Atkinson
Nigel Atkinson

After the results of the Free Press Town Centre Survey, which appeared in last week’s edition, we asked East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s head of Bridlington Renaissance, Nigel Atkinson, for his response to our findings.

See the results of the survey here
1) What was your reaction to the results of our survey? Did anything surprise you?

The area around Promenade.

The area around Promenade.

Having worked on the regeneration of the town for a number of years, most recently in my capacity as head of Bridlington Renaissance, I’m not surprised by the breadth of opinion or indeed the differing views.

People in Bridlington are rightly proud of their town and want what’s best for its future. East Riding of Yorkshire Council is no different.

Many of the topics discussed and the issues that have been raised are already being considered by the council and its partners as part of our ongoing commitment to Bridlington and its development.

Investment in Bridlington by the council also extends beyond bricks and mortar.

Prospect Street

Prospect Street

We also promote the town extensively locally, regionally, nationally and internationally as a must-visit destination through Visit Hull and East Yorkshire (VHEY) and also sponsor major events like the Tour de Yorkshire, which attract people to the town and benefit local businesses through increased visitor spend.

2) Do people have realistic expectations for Bridlington or are they too negative about what we have?

In 1996, the council had a choice. Did it manage the decline of Bridlington like many other local authorities across the country were doing with coastal towns, or did it invest for the benefit of residents and visitors.

To this day, the council is proud to have chosen the latter and – despite the challenging financial climate and factors beyond the council’s control, such as the unprecedented pressure on the high street nationally – continues to invest record levels in Bridlington’s infrastructure and facilities.

3) What is done on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis to attract good quality shops and high street names to the town centre?

Through the Bridlington Area Action Plan (AAP), the council has a long-term plan to develop the town centre and create the right conditions for the private sector to invest.

This in turn boosts the economy and creates employment opportunities for local people.

In the Hilderthorpe Road area, two sites are earmarked for development – the former Royal British Legion site and the old coach park. Both developments are progressing and it is anticipated that construction will begin this year, subject to planning.

The council’s continuing investment in Bridlington was also a factor in the decision of Premier Inn to build and open the first purpose-built hotel in the town since the 1930s.

By investing in Bridlington’s infrastructure, promoting the town as a visitor destination through its work with VHEY and by attracting events to the town, such as the Tour de Yorkshire or by securing big name acts to perform at Bridlington Spa, the council is playing its part in boosting the economy of the town.

However, the council is only one player in shaping the future prosperity of the town and is keen to engage with businesses, through the business forum and the local chamber of trade, to identify and capitalise on new opportunities, to diversify the offer and attract new businesses to Bridlington.

4) A lot of people said the town looked shabby. Can more be done to force landlords to maintain the appearance of buildings?

The council does have enforcement powers but uses these as a last resort. The council much prefers to work with property owners to bring empty units back into use and ensure that heritage assets – such as those in the Bridlington Quay Conservation Area are preserved.

The council is working with a number of property owners as part of the Townscape Heritage Project and is providing grants to improve the exterior of properties.

This project is already seeing some success with the shop frontages of a number of properties in King Street being transformed.

5) There were many comments about the need for a multi-storey car park. Is this being looked at? Do we need one?

Yes, a multi-storey car park is being considered by the council for Bridlington and a feasibility study is being undertaken.

6) Are there any updates on the plan to reintroduce parking on King Street on non-market days?

Until the feasibility study for a multi-storey car park is completed, this proposal has been parked (pardon the pun) for the time being.

However it is worth highlighting that, last summer, Bridlington experienced one of its busiest ever seasons and at no point did any of the council’s car parks in the town exceed capacity.

7) Is the one-hour limit for on-street parking in the heart of town too short? Two or three hours allows visitors to spend more time, and more money, in shops and cafes.

Parking is a complicated issue.

For operational reasons, it is important to have a variety of parking options, including a mix of short, medium and long stay. The parking strategy in the Bridlington Town Centre AAP seeks to maintain a choice of short stay parking in the town centre.

To change the limit for on-street parking in the town centre would be to replicate the options already provided in Bridlington’s existing car parks and therefore reduce short stay provision.

This would then result in a smaller turnover of spaces and inconvenience drivers who may only need to make a short visit to a shop, for example.

8) Opinions were divided on whether the Hilderthorpe Road development will have a positive effect. Do you remain convinced it will be a game-changer?

This is how Hilderthorpe Road used to look
To answer this question, it is important to remember that the Bridlington Integrated Transport Plan Phase 2 works were designed to deliver on a number of objectives.

Firstly, they were designed to improve the flow of traffic and help reduce journey times for motorists and the travelling public.

Following the recent completion of the works in Hilderthorpe Road, the council is beginning to receive feedback with many commenting that the scheme is having the desired effect.

However we do appreciate that the new layout will take some time to get used to and the council is continuing to monitor the situation. Clearly, the impact of the unrelated temporary closure of Quay Road has some impact at the present time, but long-term the benefits will be realised.

Secondly, the works were also intended to provide access to new developments at the old Royal British Legion site and the former Hilderthorpe Coach Park.

Recent investment in infrastructure has also seen a massive change in the public realm of Bridlington giving the area a more modern look which complements other works previously undertaken in the town, such as the foreshores and also around Bridlington Spa.