AFTER almost a year of preparation, Lyme Regis and Charmouth this week received the “disappointing” news that its bid to the Coastal Communities Fund had been unsuccessful.
Dorset Coast Forum had bid for just over £2million for an ambitious portfolio of projects across Swanage, Weymouth, Portland, Lyme Regis and Charmouth.
The projects received support from all the relevant local authorities at town, borough/district and county level, as well as from the Environment Agency, Public Health Dorset, Southwestern Railway, Network Rail and a number of prominent local businesses, but they faced stiff competition.
A total of 61 applications bid for a total of £84million, with only £34million from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund available and the application – knows as ‘Gateways to Business in Dorset’ – was unsuccessful.
Dorset Coast Forum, which headed up the bid, said it was disappointed with the outcome but was looking positively to the future.
Co-ordinator Natalie Poulter said: “We’ve built a good portfolio of four really strong projects which we still feel could offer significant benefits to residents in Swanage, Weymouth, Portland, Charmouth and Lyme Regis.
“We’re really disappointed that this application was unsuccessful, but we know there is a lot of support for these projects locally, so we’re keen to explore other ways of taking elements of them forwards and make that difference for our coastal communities.”
Dorset Coast Forum worked with the Lyme Regis and Charmouth Coastal Communities Team – led by LymeForward – to finalise the portfolio of projects.
Chris Tipping, manager of LymeFoward, commented: “Naturally we are extremely disappointed and frustrated, especially as we have a strong desire to bring about improvements to our area.
“We will now be exploring other ways to deliver the projects and look forward to working with Dorset Coastal Forum to achieve this.”
The local components of the funding bid included:
- Interpretation (£80,000) – Providing directional, seafront and historical town information that encourages visitors to explore Lyme, Charmouth & Uplyme along and adjacent to the seafront and river valley, thus increasing footfall in the museum and other venues and enhancing the visitor experience. By integrating the coastal and inland pathways with the town and village centres, the project plans to encourage a broader experience, enjoying local food and drink and increasing dwell time and consequent expenditure with local businesses.
- Development and promotion of walking routes (£10,000) – To improve ‘legibility’ of the town, integrated with signage/interpretation as outlined above, and linking to the improved River Lim Path.
- Disabled access around Lyme Regis town and gardens (£20,000)
- New Lyme Regis seafront railings (£60,000)
- Lyme Regis Theatre Square demountable marquee (£25,000)
- New beach access at Charmouth (£295,000)
- Riverside footpath to link east and west Charmouth beaches (£15,000)
- Visit Lyme promotional material (£55,000)
Dorset Coast Forum will now work closely with the project planning teams to explore funding options, and to make sure that any match funding which has been committed is used in the best way possible towards delivering key aspects of the projects.
Natalie added: “It’s important for these communities to know that we’re not giving up, and that we’re exploring all other options. This includes innovative funding sources we might not have explored previously, business sponsorship and a range of other options.
“We invite other potential funders to come forwards if they’d like to find out more about what we want to deliver and how they could get involved.”
Dorset Coast Forum is an independent, non-political partnership organisation which promotes a sustainable approach to the management, use and development of Dorset’s coast to maintain its natural and cultural qualities for the benefit of future generations.
Its members and partners are from the public, charity and private sectors, with a core team hosted by Dorset County Council and based at County Hall in Dorchester. The team works with forum members to develop and deliver strategic projects for the coast’s wider benefit.
For more information, visit the website www.dorsetcoast.com