Harbour bosses reject council plans at inquiry

Brid Sea From from the Air 08
Brid Sea From from the Air 08

EAST Riding of Yorkshire council’s plans for a new marina and harbour top development were rejected by Harbour Commissioners at a public hearing into the soundness of the town’s future regeneration plans.

Inspector Sian Worden chaired the hearing at Bridlington Spa last week and questioned the council on its Area Action Plan (AAP) document - which sets out a vision of the town’s future regeneration - as well as hearing from objectors including the Harbour Commissioners.

Richard Humphreys QC, representing the Harbour Commissioners, told inspector Sian Worden that the language of the AAP document, which referred to the harbour as having “quirky appeal”, was unhelpful and undermined its position as an historic and successful harbour.

Mr Humphreys said that despite working with the council for 5 years, it seemed the Commissioners objections had not properly been taken on board - as was the case with the other objectors at the hearing.

According to the Commissioners, the land at the west end of the harbour, referred to by the council as the harbour top, should be removed from the AAP document’s Burlington Parade shopping district as there is “no robust evidence that private investment will not take place unless the harbour top is developed” - a move supported by Bridlington Town Council and other objectors to the AAP.

Mr Humphreys also raised concerns about the council’s plans to build a 320 berth marina, as it has “not been demonstrated to be viable and therefore deliverable” in the current economic climate. The Commissioners believe that if the harbour top and marina are included in the AAP, then land they will lose to the development should be replaced before any work begins - as without it, the trust port would find it very difficult to operate.

The Commissioners in the new year increase the number of in-harbour boat pontoons to 66, and believe that their plans for a reduced in-harbour marina have not been compared with the council’s own marina plans.

David Elvin QC, on behalf of the council, say that “no credible alternative is advanced by any party which would restructure the town centre to transform its ability to recapture trade going elsewhere and to strengthen all year round economy”. They say that the Harbour Commissioners revised marina plans amount to little else “than tinkering with the existing harbour and will not work a transformational change”.

The council believe the harbour top is central to the AAP and without it “as a key piece of land within the town” the restructuring of the town centre cannot be achieved.

Attacking the Harbour Commissioners position, David Elvin QC said that they “pay lip service to the needs of Bridlington but act in a manner which is a recipe for procrastination and further decline”. The council also say that they are not arguing for a 320 berth marina to be introduced immediately, but for berths to be phased in according to demand as the economy recovers.

The council also take issue with the Harbour Commissioners assertions that around 300 jobs are dependant on the harbour, coming up with a figure closer to 80 themselves and objected to the weight given to the previous Marina report.

Responding to objector Colin Seymour’s claim that the AAP could not lawfully include policies relating to the harbour, the council quoted legal precedent which they say shows that new structures built upon existing structures are allowed.

David Elvin, summing up for the council, said that most of the objections raised were not matters of soundness, and that despite concerns proper public consultation was carried out and that the number of objectors were relatively few.

Inspector Sian Worden’s report into the soundness of the AAP is expected in the new year.