£2m Lottery cash bid to transform Fairhaven turned down

Fairhaven Lake
Fairhaven Lake
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Plans to revamp a key Fylde tourist attraction have suffered a major blow.

A bid by Fylde Council for £2.1m Heritage Lottery cash to help restore Fairhaven Lake to its former glory have been turned down at the first stage.

The proposed sea defences are very appealing visually and will add to the area’s tourist appeal as well as reducing the risk of flooding and coastal erosion

But councillors have vowed to battle on with a partial new look for the area – and plans for new sea defences at Fairhaven and Church Scar, under a £17m Environment Agency scheme, will be unveiled next week.

It has been hoped that the Fairhaven Lake improvement work - the subject of two public consultations held at the Lake in recent months – could be carried out in tandem with the work on the sea defences.

Now, however, a major rethink is needed, although Heritage Lottery bosses - citing keen competition for funds as their reason for refusal - have stressed that Fylde Council is welcome to make another bid.

Proposals for the new sea defences, including a Blackpool-style stepped revetment at Fairhaven Lake and a sloping revetment and widened promenade for Church Scar, will go on public display at the Lake on Friday, July 10. Coun David Eaves, chairman of Fylde Council’s Operational Management Committee, said: “We’re enormously disappointed not to have got the Heritage Lottery Fund money, but excited at the drawings we now have for the wider sea defence work.

“The proposed sea defences are very appealing visually and will add to the area’s tourist appeal as well as reducing the risk of flooding and coastal erosion.

“I hope a lot of people will attend the open day on July 10 when we will unveil the preferred options for the new sea walls and promenade.

“This is work that will last for the next 100 years and it is important that we get it right.”

The open day for the sea defence proposals will be staged at Fairhaven’s RSPB Discovery Centre from noon to 5pm. It is expected that sea-defence work will start in spring 2017 and end in November 2018 if the preferred options are approved by the Environment Agency in November this year.

Coun Cheryl Little, chairman of Fylde Council’s Tourism and Leisure Committee and a Fairhaven ward representative, said: “We’re bitterly disappointed not to have got the lottery money to restore the lake and gardens but we don’t think it’s the end of the road for improvement plans.

“The lottery will give us feedback soon on why they couldn’t support our bid and we will have to think very carefully about the way ahead.

“Our initial thoughts are that we can still make improvements to the lake and gardens – but it may involve breaking the works down into smaller chunks.

“The lake and gardens, of course, contains many leisure elements as well as sports facilities such as bowling and sailing. It may be that we can investigate possible Sport England funding for the sports facilities and lever in ‘planning gain’ cash for other facilities.

“It may even be possible to go back to the Heritage Lottery Fund for some elements of work such as restoring the Japanese gardens.

“A re-think is needed although we don’t believe it is the end of the road.

“The public has been so supportive of this bid and we’d like to thank them for that. More than 12,000 people expressed their support for the bid and they can be assured that we will continue to work hard to find alternative funding.”

A spokesman for the Heritage Lottery Fund said: “The HLF and Big Lottery Fund have assessed an application to the joint parks programme from Fylde Council for a first round pass of £2,152,400 including £176,900 development funding to restore Fairhaven Lake and Gardens and after careful consideration in a competitive round, it was decided that the Funds were unable to support the project on this occasion.

“Although we recognised the need and local support for restoring Fairhaven Lake and Gardens alongside the separate works to repair the sea wall, there were insufficient funds available to support all the projects considered on the day.

“We appreciate that this decision will be disappointing for everyone involved and we will be meeting with representatives to discuss the next steps.”