So – East Suffolk Council has been awarded £561,870 through Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) programme to revitalise South Lowestoft. This is on top of funding awarded for The North Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone (HAZ), a five-year programme focusing on some of the oldest parts of the town including the High Street and Scores. And this funding follows the news last week that Lowestoft had been chosen to benefit from funding as part of the Government’s £3.6 billion ‘New Towns Fund’. Lowestoft is one of 100 towns which will now have the opportunity to bid for up to £25 million to develop innovative regeneration proposals.
What’s this got to do with us I hear you cry? Well – there was a bid put in by Felixstowe Forward to be included on the HSHAZ programme. As far as I am aware East Suffolk put both towns forward. Lowestoft won.
There was always a fear that by combining Waveney and Suffolk Coastal into one giant council that inevitably the support would be focused on the most deprived area of the new demographic. And that seems to be happening.
Now I’ve got nothing against Lowestoft – and if you have visited recently as I have you will know than it is in dire need of some sort of boost – the High Street is just about all boarded up – you can almost see the dried grass blowing down the street aka America’s abandoned Wild West settlements, the Scores Area is derelict and there is a sense of decay that wafts through its once proud history.
But it will take more than money – there has to be a willingness from the local population to engage with projects, and with the demographic of the town being in the main divided between poor working class without jobs and an influx of those from various cultural backgrounds – with the best will in the world I’m just not sure they will be engaged with the more historical aspects of the area when their main concerns are how to survive from day to day.
Felixstowe has its own needs as far as regeneration is concerned – the South Seafront area is in a poor way and although there has been a substantial chunk of money awarded from the Coastal Communities Fund this seems now to have been earmarked for a new restaurant on Martello Park rather than refurbishing the area. And if the moving of the Leisure Centre out of town goes ahead there might be more businesses both on the seafront and in the Town Centre that close their doors.
We used to miss out because all funding seemed to stop at Woodbridge. Are we now facing the same predicament but from a different rival?