Beach reconstruction, re-development of carparks and street-food on the seafront are among measures being suggested to Norfolk councillors by famed designer Wayne Hemingway, who is fast becoming a leading figure in coastal regeneration.
West Norfolk council has hired a London-based design consultancy to help guide a regeneration effort in the coastal community of Hunstanton.
Hemingway Design has already taking the helm of restoration work in Lowest- oft, Bognor Regis, Morecombe and Margate, under the leadership of its founder, long-term design veteran Wayne Hemingway.
But this month has seen the company host a consultation meeting in Hunstanton – where councillors and residents congregated to hear the findings of Hemingway’s preliminary consumer surveys.
“The number one thing people wanted were coastal defences that would re-introduce sand to the beach,” Wayne Hemingway told the assembly. “People expect to see sand or pebbles – Hunstanton has sadly lost its sand and has no pebbles, [so] it’s got a beach that looks like a building site.”
Of course, terraforming a beach requires coastal defences which take time and money to produce – perhaps as long as 30 years, by Hemingway’s reckoning, were the town to wait for money from Westminster.
But the company envisions other, quicker fixes for driving footfall to Hunstanton’s promenade: such as the replacement of permanent kiosks with street food stalls and pop-up shops – which would hold a particular appeal to younger patrons. Indeed, it was by targeting the millennial demographic that Hemingway accounted for the fact that “an awful lot of seaside towns are doing pretty well at the moment compared to ten years ago.”
Hemingway also called the local council out for what he viewed as a “lack of generosity” in some of their planning and enforcement decisions.
“Brighton has free play areas, you’ve got a pay play area for kinds – what’s that about?” he said. “You’ve got a prom that is perfectly wide and there’s a sign up saying no cycling – but there’s room for people to co-exist on there.”
Nevertheless, he maintained that he and his colleagues saw “many strengths and opportunities” for development – namely in the swathes of space currently dedicated to parking.
“We couldn’t believe the scale of opportunity on the seafront,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to park, but this could be re-thought.”