Community hub, theatre upgrade and regeneration of town centre planned through £1.6m project
PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 June 2018
A £1.6million project which will transform a Somerset town has been backed by town councillors.
Burnham Evolution aims to make the town more attractive to people who live and work in it as well as tourists.
On Monday, Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge town councillors voted unanimously to support the business plan which would see the council apply for £1,663,000 worth of funding from the Coastal Communities Fund and Hinkley Community Impact Mitigation Fund.
Money will be used to focus on regeneration of key areas in the town including the Esplanade, seafront, town centre, installing seagull-proof bins and creating a community hub in the Princess Theatre, in Princess Street.
The decision comes after the council received 205 responses during its public consultation phase, with 69 per cent of people stating there is not enough in the town to attract visitors to it, while 90 per cent believed Burnham could make more of its seaside location and seafront.
The town council will work alongside Sedgemoor District Council, Burnham Chamber of Trade and other groups to deliver the project.
Deputy council chairman Peter Clayton said: “It is important to note no design details have been considered at this stage, this will happen once we receive the funding.
“It was clear from our public consultation something needs to change.
“I am sure we can do something very special in the town with this amount of money.”
The Mercury reported last month the town council had employed a consultant to prepare a business plan in order to apply for grants.
But some town councillors voiced their concerns over the plans’ lack of clarity.
Cllr Louise Parkin said: “What bothers me is the cost of maintaining toilets on the Esplanade and at the Princess have not been factored in to the business plan.
“We need the district council to commit to maintaining the toilets.”
Cllr Clayton responded by saying maintenance costs have been considered ‘for the foreseeable future’.
Wells MP James Heappey added: “I am pleased to see the council are putting together this project.
“With the busy tourism season approaching, it is important the Esplanade looks its very best.
“Burnham is a wonderful place for people to visit and there will be people who will dismiss these improvements but I could not disagree more. For a tourist town, first impressions really matter.”