Friday, 24 May 2024

The neglected UK seaside town finally being restored to its former glory

Seaside towns and cities in the UK have a bad rap. Many, like Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire, once felt like they were the centre of the world.

Their promenades lit up, the shops were clad in fancy signs and neon lighting. The amusement parks roared with laughter and the sound of coins dropping on the penny machines. Everyone headed to these towns in the summer when the sun was out, the days were long, and school was over. They thronged with revellers, and every so often you might just get a glimpse of a local celebrity. 

Today, this is no longer the case. Most seaside towns sit as shells of their former selves: destitute and scarce of investment or opportunity. Things are changing for Mablethorpe, however, and the town could prove a blueprint for seaside sites like it across the country.

In March 2021, it was announced that Mablethorpe and neighbouring Skegness were getting investment as part of the government’s Town’s End project, which will see £3.6billion invested in regions across the country.

East Lindsey District Council in Lincolnshire successfully won their region’s bid, securing a whopping £48.4million to invest in the coastal strip of land, as well as an additional £34.4million in match funding for both towns. A total of £18million was allocated to Mablethorpe, a sum which will be spent in the town between this year and next.

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Many new schemes have already been announced, including a leisure and learning hub, a new colonnade, and a medical centre campus, known as the Campus for Future Living.

It will, the local authorities hope, encourage young people to stay in the town, Mablethorpe having suffered a brain drain to nearby larger settlements and urban areas, a common occurrence across the UK.

It’s also hoped that the new investment will attract people to relocate to Mablethorpe, according to the chair of the Connected Coast board Chris Baron.

Speaking to LincolnshireLive, he said his ambition was to make the town attractive as possible, and was most excited about the ‘campus for future living’ — a medical centre that will help improve social mobility in the town.

“This will, I hope, be a game changer for the health of people in Mablethorpe and surrounding areas,” said Mr Baron.

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“It will become a training area for medical teams from Lincoln and Nottingham. It will be a place where people can go and get tests done pretty quickly.

“It will have laboratories there. It will be a place for e-medicine as well, so people can access the best care. It doesn’t have to be physically on their doorstep. They will be able to access it through the Internet.

“It will also create job opportunities at a higher skill level that are not currently available in Mablethorpe and it will bring people into the town who probably wouldn’t have visited – and hopefully they will come back and holiday here as well.”

Work only recently began on the Campus for Future Living and isn’t expected to be completed until Spring 2024.

It is the first council-led Town Deal project to start and could show other similar towns that have won funding how they might go about regenerating their communities.

The main Campus building will include two large consultation rooms, seminar and teaching rooms, an event space with a coffee hub, and a pathology laboratory as well as additional laboratory space. There will also be an accommodation block, a children’s play area, and a 35-space car park with electric vehicle charging bays.

Councillor William Gray, Portfolio Holder for Communities and Better Ageing and Political Lead for the Campus for Future Living said: “This is an exciting day for Mablethorpe and for everyone involved in making the Campus of Future Living a reality.

“Through the backing of the Government through the Town Deal, we are enabling millions of pounds to be invested in Mablethorpe to help improve the lives of residents, bring them new health opportunities and attract inward investment to the Lincolnshire coast. The benefits will be long-lasting for our communities.

“We will, of course, be keeping residents and stakeholders updated on the progress of the construction works as the Campus for Future Living takes shape. I look forward to seeing it progress over the coming year.”

The Campus is the flagship investment for Mablethorpe and hopes to encourage the town’s growth into becoming a centre of medical technology and innovation, providing health and care-related teaching, training, research, and development.

There are other aspects to the scheme, too, like improvements to Mablethorpe’s existing infrastructure led by Heritage Lincolnshire.

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