£1.75m boost to coastal visitor economy

An artist's impression of the marine observatory at Chapel St Leonards.
An artist's impression of the marine observatory at Chapel St Leonards.

A £1.75 million boost has been awarded to the visitor economy along the Skegness coast.

The investment will help create the UK’s first purpose-built marine observatory at Chapel St Leonards, as well as replace Gibraltar Point’s flood-damaged visitor centre.

The visitor centre and North Sea Observatory are expected to support more than 50 local jobs.

It is also hoped they will extend the traditional tourist season, helping to attract more people to the area and boost its economy.

The funding announcement has been welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Cameron said: “Supporting coastal communities is an important part of our long-term economic plan. This investment from the Coastal Communities Fund will support the creation of jobs and apprenticeships on the Skegness Coast.

“Conservatives including Matt Warman are backing our coastal communities ensuring there are more families in Skegness enjoying the security of a regular pay packet and giving young people the skills they need to succeed in life.”

Coun Colin Davie, executive councillor for economic development and tourism at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Lincolnshire’s coastline is stunning at any time of year but, traditionally, the majority of visitors come in the summer. These projects will change that – making it possible to easily enjoy our coast’s internationally renowned habitats at any time of year.

“That represents an incredible boost for the area’s economy. In fact, we expect this to result in more visitors, more trade, more jobs and even more acclaim. Our successful bid for government money clearly endorses this huge potential.”

The money has come from the Coastal Communities Fund.

The visitor centre at Gibraltar Point will replace the one damaged during December 2013’s storm surge.

The site will house a café and visitor information.

Work will begin in June and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The North Sea Observatory at Chapel St Leonards will be at the gateway to the new Coastal Country Park and will include a coastal observatory, art space supported by Arts Council England, café and public toilets.

Work is expected to begin this October and be finished by October 2016.

Together, the two sites form the county council’s Lincolnshire Coastal Observatories Project.

The project is costing a total of £2.688 million. In addition to the £1.75 million from the Coastal Communities Fund, £688,000 is coming from Lincolnshire County Council, £150,000 from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and £100,000 from Arts Council England.

Both visitor centres will be owned by Lincolnshire County Council, with the one at Gibraltar Point run by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

Read more in Wednesday’s Skegness Standard.