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Be brave and think big for seaside regeneration, urges a visionary Wayne Hemmingway

PUBLISHED: 22:49 06 October 2017 | UPDATED: 22:49 06 October 2017

Wayne Hemmingway speaks at the Suffolk Coast Forum conference at Trinity Park, Ipswich.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROW

Wayne Hemmingway speaks at the Suffolk Coast Forum conference at Trinity Park, Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROW

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A conference that highlighted the varied value of the much-loved Suffolk coast was told that courage was needed in the rejuvenation of resorts that are sometimes thought of as down-at-heel - and ‘pioneering young people’ had to be engaged.

Wayne Hemmingway MBE at the Suffolk Coast Forum Annual Conference. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNWayne Hemmingway MBE at the Suffolk Coast Forum Annual Conference. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Breathing new life into Britain’s often ailing seaside towns needed bravery and big-thinking, urban regeneration guru Wayne Hemmingway told a Suffolk coast conference yesterday.

And such courage, already shown by successfully re-invigorated coastal towns such as Margate and Weston-super-Mare, may soon be seen in Lowestoft where Hemmingway Design - the company founded by Mr Hemmingway after guiding his Red or Dead fashion business to iconic status - has put forward regeneration ideas for the town’s southern seafront area.

Bristling with bold proposals, Mr Hemmingway was a keynote speaker at Valuing Our Coast and Estuaries, the sixth annual conference of the Suffolk Coast Forum, at Trinity park, Ipswich.

He told about 200 delegates that seaside towns that had regeneration as an aspiration needed to “have the antennae to be the first mover in everything” and engaging “pioneering young people” was essential.

A new generation of people were rediscovering the British seaside and had “big interest in architecture that could look very wrong to people of a certain age but very right to the younger generation.”

Brave regeneration could be the catalyst that sparked wide-ranging and positive transformation of communities that had suffered deprivation. “The combination of young people and empty properties is positive - it says opportunity, it absolutely says opportunity,” he said.

He cited the rejuvenation of places such as Margate, Weston-super-Mare, Boscombe, near Bournemouth, and Liverpool. Hemmingway Design had worked in the communities and all had shown bravery in their transformations.

The firm was working “with a reasonably light touch” in Lowestoft, he said, but he offered forthright views on some of the features in the town’s south seafront area. “We could not believe the faux Victorian pavilion, we nearly collapsed at how bad it was,” he said.

The South Pier had too many railings and prohibitive signs - “you are at the seaside, you are supposed to be having fun,” said Mr Hemmingway. Marine Parade had no Airbnb properties and Royal Plain had poor lighting and seating, and there was “no art to it.”

A Hemmingway Design report had been submitted to Waveney District Council, he said, and throughout his conference presentation Mr Hemmingway repeated his view that “seaside regeneration is all about bravery.”

The conference considered wide-ranging aspects of the Suffolk coast, from flood-risk management to the area’s agriculture and tourism, and another keynote speaker, Anglian Water group director Mark Pendlington, described the coast as the “golden thread” that ran through the area’s entire economy.

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