LONG-awaited plans for the multi-million pound regeneration of one of Yorkshire’s most deprived coastal towns could run aground amid fears they may harm its lucrative fishing industry.
The result of an inquiry into East Riding Council’s plans for the £200m redevelopment of Bridlington will be published in 10 days, but the resort’s Harbour Commissioners, a key stakeholder, have revealed they will seek to block the scheme at the High Court if it is given the go-ahead, claiming the port would be “just about closed down”.
Bridlington is home to one of the most successful shellfishing fleets in England, netting a catch worth more than £5.6m last year, and is the country’s leading lobster port, landing more than three and a half times the tonnage of its nearest rival.
The Commissioners say their ability to operate the port would be hampered by the loss of reclaimed land for the wider development, which they would not recover until the completion of a new marina, delivery of which is the least certain element of the project and not scheduled for construction until 2018.
Commissioners’ chairman George Traves said: “They are taking all the land and filling so much of the harbour in. Where do the fishermen go? And we would only be able to lift two or three boats at a time. We would be just about closed down. They would be knocking the warehouses down and rehousing the fishermen in cabins or containers. We would be losing 45 (private) berths with the option of filling more in. We are just losing everywhere.”
The Commissioners have already spent £200,000 defending their position at a planning inquiry and are determined to continue their fight, despite concern about the drain on their resources.
“We would appeal but this is costing us a huge amount,” said Mr Traves. “It’s a strange situation – are they trying to break us?”
The Commissioners hope to clarify their position at a meeting with officials from the Department for Transport on Monday, when the council will also be submitting its response to a final report by planning inspector Sian Worden.
An appeal, which would be costly for all sides, would be a major setback for the council and cast fresh doubt on the scheme’s ability to revitalise the resort. Despite the delays, frustrations and disagreements, the need for action has never been greater, with new figures revealing Bridlington to be the most socially and economically deprived town in East Yorkshire.
The final Area Action Plan, which is due to be published on August 20, would guide development in the town for the next nine years and is an ambitious attempt to transform the character and economy of Bridlington.
It aims to make Bridlington “once again the jewel of East Yorkshire’s coast”.
Any appeal must be lodged at the High Court within six weeks of the council’s adoption of the plan.
Alan Menzies, the council’s director of planning and economic regeneration, said: “The AAP has been promoted in an open and transparent manner and has included extensive public consultation as well as discussions with local businesses and other key stakeholders in Bridlington.
“The council is aware of the concerns raised by the Harbour Commissioners, but is unable to comment on these until the inspector’s report is published.”