Ambitious plans to redevelop a dilapidated corner of Skegness foreshore with an all-year-round attraction, creating jobs and boosting tourism, are one stage nearer realisation.
Skegness Partnership’s application for £1.2 million of European funding to breathe new life into Scarbrough Esplanade with a covered canopy, linking Skegness Pier and Botton’s Pleasure Beach has been included in Lincolnshire County Council’s final bid.
Town manager Stefan Krause believes the project, if approved, would rejuvenate one of the town’s most prominent, yet out-dated, tourist zones with an eye-catching new focal feature, creating around 10 new jobs and sustaining a further 40.
He said: “Scarbrough Esplanade needs investment and this project would make a huge impact on Skegness foreshore.
“It would take a tired and outdated looking area and transform it into an all year attraction.”
A canopy, higher than both its neighbouring features, would be built in a shape evoking the waving arms of the resort’s famous Jolly Fisherman mascot.
Innovative new materials have been selected for the project, enabling light to pass through while offering protection from the elements and retaining warmth for year round use.
The area beneath the canopy would be completely transformed to provide an attractive, covered, outdoor space with aesthetic water features, planted spaces and a children’s play area.
An outdoor stage would be included at both ends of the esplanade to host entertaining performances alongside lighting displays and fountains timed to music.
The idea was first devised by an employee at Botton’s Pleasure Beach as a means to expand the tourist season.
Pleasure beach owner Jimmy Botton said: “This is a project we’ve been working on for some time.
“If the funding comes through and planning consent is given it will generate an important area of the town.”
Mr Botton and William Mitchell, who is joint managing director the neighbouring Skegness Pier, have both made ‘substantial contributions’ to the project and are believed to have planned enhancements to their own attractions.
Mr Mitchell said: “We have been working as part of a team in partnership with a whole raft of people and organisation to get the scheme this far.
“I would like to say how supportive and encouraging the council from Skegness, East Lindsey and Lincolnshire have been throughout the process
“There are just one or two more hurdles to clear, so our fingers are still crossed and we hope that this will become an iconic addition to the Skegness foreshore.”
The Mayor of Skegness Coun Mark Anderson has praised the initiative as a great example of private-public partnerships working together for the community’s benefit.
He said: “This is a great example of the business community and local councils working together to develop plan and seek funding to improve the local area for both local people and visitors.
“There is still along way to go but this project is heading in the right direction.”
Coun Phil Kemp also contributed to the project through his Councillor Community Grant and hopes his investment will help Skegness maintain its position as one of the UK’s leading tourist resorts by ‘moving with the times’.
Lincolnshire County Council has approved the project alongside 19 others in the county for its final bid to the European Regional Development Fund.
Head of enterprise at LCC Justin Brown said the process would take time and careful planning but felt the projects chosen represented the county’s best chance for success.
He said: “The team that have been working on this have worked on EU funding bids for the past 10 to 12 years and they have chosen the projects they think have the best chance.
“They will be working with each of the groups behind the projects to keep them in the loop as the application develops.”
Skegness Partnership had submitted further bids, totalling more than £4 million, for projects at The Storehouse, Tower Gardens Pavilion and St Matthew’s Church.
Sadly, none of these projects have made it through to the final application, however Mr Krause believes the work that went into them has enhanced their chances of securing funding from other sources such as the Coastal Communities Fund.
He said: “The confidence has grown, it’s the first step in the right direction and I think there will be more appetite in the future, which is exactly what I want to see happen.”