After decades of false starts, a new marina could be ready to welcome its first boats to Bridlington in less than five years.
The town has been given around £3.5million to carry out the next stage of the project, which will see a business plan drawn up and the initial designs created.
The new marina site, built to the outside of the existing south pier, could involve hotels, flats, shops and restaurants, and the public can expect to see the first set of plans later this year.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council said it has not been told the exact amount it will receive, but Bridlington’s MP Sir Greg Knight claims £3.5million is on its way.
Pete Ashcroft, project manager for Yorkshire Harbour and Marina, said: “It is to take us through the project design stage, which has several elements.
“Firstly, we have to design the harbour infrastructure and what we need on the wet side.
“Then we have to plan what development might go on the harbour top. To the west of the existing harbour and the west of the new harbour will be an area of reclaimed land and we need to see what uses that land could be best put to.
“The Area Action Plan had the concept of things like a hotel in association with The Spa to attract conference business.
“There could also be food and drink outlets and the potential for further commercial space.
“Residential developments and car parking could be part of it. We have to look at what would be most beneficial. The businesses for the harbour and marina have to make a transformation for the socio-economic wellbeing of Bridlington itself.”
“This will have significant benefits to Bridlington itself, but because of the scale of the project, it will have benefits for the East Riding and the whole of the Yorkshire region, bringing in higher spenders and people who will stay longer.”
The £3.5million will fund work which is likely to take around 18 months, and building the marina and improving the existing harbour will be a three-year project.
“In terms of timescale, we are hoping to appoint consultants shortly and will be taking a report to the council’s cabinet meeting on February 28,” confirmed Mr Ashcroft.
“Work will go on until late summertime, and if we think we have something we can promote, we will start to consult with the public to get their response, and that will take us through to the end of this year.
“Subject to it all being successful, we will then look to apply for the orders that will allow work to begin, and we are looking at mid 2018 for that all to be in place.
“This money will help us to understand if we have something which is affordable, deliverable and workable.
“We have got to a good stage, where we are able to go forward with the design, jointly with the Harbour Commissioners.”
The current plan is retain the commercial fishing fleet in the existing harbour and creating the marina in the proposed new harbour.
Experts say this will reduce the disruption to the fishing fleet, require a less substantial form of construction for the new outer pier, reducethe need for dredging the existing harbour, and shorten the construction timescale.
It has also slashed the projected cost from £96million to around £54million.
Cllr Jane Evison, cabinet portfolio holder for economic investment and tourism at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic news for Bridlington.
“I know that the council is very clearly investing heavily in Bridlington, and this is the icing on the cake.
“This is what we have been waiting for. This is the final part of the jigsaw that completes the regeneration of Bridlington.
“We are all delighted to hear it’s been successful.
The East Wolds and Coastal ward councillor also warned against scepticism, and is encouraging people to get behind the long-awaited plans.
She said: “In fairness, we have to recognise it is the furthest we have been with it.
“It’s got support at all levels and everyone is pulling together to make it happen.
“It’s exactly what Bridlington needs and it will make will make it shine. I think we have to think very, very positively about this.”