Ministers to review resort town policy

Ministers are considering fresh approaches to tackle the decline in coastal towns just months after rejecting proposals from a group of MPs, Planning has learnt.

Labour MP Phyllis Starkey, who chairs the Commons communities and local government committee, told Planning that the ministerial line-up under premier Gordon Brown is more favourable to a change of tack.

The committee's report, published in March, called for action to regenerate seaside towns. It advised measures such as helping develop industries alongside tourism (Planning, 9 March, p2).

But it was largely rejected two months later when the government rebuffed its proposals for a cross-department working group, tourism trends research and action on multiple-occupancy homes in poor condition.

But communities secretary Hazel Blears, who replaced Ruth Kelly in the role, is reconsidering some of the recommendations.

Starkey said: "There is now recognition that seaside resorts and coastal towns do have certain characteristics. We need government departments to work together in the form of a cross-department group of civil servants and politicians."

Brown also signalled a commitment to seaside towns at prime minister's question time this week, saying: "We must do more for our coastal towns over the next few years to make them attractive to tourists and help economic regeneration."

A DCLG spokesman added: "We are working with other departments and the regional development agencies to see what more might be done to meet the select committee's concerns."

The move came as English Heritage published two reports looking at decay in English coastal towns and staged a conference in Hastings this week.

It called on the government to tackle social deprivation and the problems of an ageing population in some resorts, as well as a lack of good marketing and access.

The reports are available at PlanningResource.co.uk/doc.


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