Great start made on economic plans for coastal communities

Posted on: 13 March 2017

Work has now begun on economic plans for two new Coastal Community teams in North Devon.

In January, North Devon Council was successful in two bids for funding from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund. As a result, Coastal Community Teams for the ‘Tarka Trail’ and ‘North Devon Surfing Beaches’ have been set up, with £10,000 to spend on initiatives to help their local communities.

The teams have since held their first meetings and the council is now drafting an Economic Plan for each team based on their ideas and aspirations.

The ‘Tarka Trail’ Coastal Community Team, made up of local businesses, landowners, Appledore/Instow ferry, Exmoor National Park, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Barnstaple Town Centre Management and local councillors, held a breakfast meeting at Johns of Instow. Their discussions identified projects to increase the use of the Tarka Trail and benefit local businesses offering food, accommodation and services along its route. Ideas included:

• undertaking research to understand needs of current users
• a dedicated website to promote the Trail and the businesses along it
• improved signs, information boards and mileage markers
• extending the Trail and closing ‘gaps’
• itineraries for days out
• an electric bike scheme
• new camp sites

Executive Member for Environment, Councillor Rodney Cann, said: “This is an opportunity for the relevant agencies and local businesses to work together to promote and market the Tarka Trail as a major national recreational facility, with the potential to provide a significant financial spin-off for local businesses and our economy generally .”

Last week, the ‘North Devon Surfing Beaches’ Coastal Community Team met at Putsborough Beach Cafe to discuss how to address issues at North Devon beaches. The team included the AONB, National Trust,RNLI, North Devon Council, the Wave Project, Croyde Surf Museum and commercial operators.

A lively meeting produced lots of ideas for improvements including :

• hot showers, storage and clubhouses
• safety signs
• outside eating areas
• electric charging points
• beach cleans
• wheelchair access
• improved marketing

Executive Member for Economic Regeneration, Councillor Pat Barker, said: “Everyone agreed it was really useful for the different groups to come together and talk, as we all face similar problems and may be able to arrive at solutions that can help all the beaches in the area. Educating people, including schoolchildren, about safety in the water is a top priority.”

The Coastal Community team economic plans will be published on the council’s website and funding bids will then be prepared to deliver some of the projects. It’s likely the funding will be spent on smaller scale projects that are considered as priorities for the teams.

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Posted in: Community