Skegness foreshore project fails in £1.2m European funding bid

Conceptual images of the �1.2m Scarbrough Esplanade project.
Conceptual images of the �1.2m Scarbrough Esplanade project.
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An ambitious project to redevelop an outdated corner of Skegness Foreshore with an all-year-round attraction has failed to secure the required European funding.

Skegness Partnership’s bid for £1.2 million through the European Regional Development Fund to enhance Scarbrough Esplanade, by linking the Pier with Botton’s Pleasure Beach with a covered canopy, was deemed ‘impossible to advance’.

Partnership chairman and Pleasure Beach owner Jimmy Botton said the bid organisers had done ‘everything possible ‘ to secure the funding and were ‘very disappointed’ with the decision.

“It was all resting on the funding,” he said.

“It had been earmarked for Skegness, the area needed regeneration and the money was there to be grabbed.

“We did everything possible we could and I’m very disappointed it’s not paid off.”

The project had received a mixed reaction when conceptual images of its design were first made public in February.

Although many appreciated the investment in a prominent yet dilapidated section of the foreshore and the potential for job creation, others struggled to see its value as a tourist attraction, likening its design to that of a wind tunnel.

The canopy, which would have been taller than both its neighbouring features had been designed to evoke the waving arms of Skegness’s Jolly Fisherman mascot,

Its innovative choice of materials had been selected to allow light to pass through while shielding the elements to retain warmth for all-year-round use. And stages at either end of the canopy had been planned to host entertaining performances alongside lighting displays and fountains timed to music, to create a new focal point for the resort.

Although Mr Botton and Skegness Pier had contributed financially to the project, Lincolnshire County Council, which collated the region’s overall bid, feared it would fall foul of state aid rules regarding the support offered to private business.

LCC’s executive member for economic development Coun Colin Davie said: “People need to realise that projects of this nature can only progress if developers are prepared to put forward a substantial contribution of their own.”

More encouragingly, Coun Davie said a number of support schemes, which will benefit more than 250 businesses across East Lindsey, Boston and Lincoln were ‘progressing well’ in their funding bid and are currently part of a package being assessed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

“This is just one of our ambitious plans for economic growth on the coast,” he said.

“We want to take a wide-ranging approach that isn’t just focused on the tourism industry, but also creates new highly-skilled job opportunities in new sectors.”

Other Skegness projects involving The Storehouse, Tower Gardens Pavilion and St Matthew’s Church had already been discounted.

Coun Mark Anderson, who had been heavily involved with the project from its inception, still has hopes the project can be achieved with other European grant applications - more to follow.