The funding will be channelled into making the most of Minehead’s traditional appeal as a seaside resort – but with a 21st century twist.
The aim is to give Minehead the buzz that is needed to bring new visitors in, while retaining the Edwardian charm that keeps holiday-makers returning year after year.
The £501,000 will be released from funding allocated to West Somerset under the Hinkley Point C Community Impact Mitigation (CIM) fund after West Somerset Council approved the bid for “Enterprising Minehead” on Wednesday August 2.
“This is a golden opportunity for Minehead, providing the town with the opportunity to turn some long-held ambitions into reality,” said Leader of the Council Cllr Anthony Trollope-Bellew..
“The bid submitted will help transform the seafront, establish a hospitality and tourism academy to improve skills, market Minehead and its many attractions and help local businesses,” said Cllr Andrew Hadley, Lead Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration.
Deputy Leader Cllr Mandy Chilcott, who chairs the board responsible for making recommendations on CIM fund bids, said: “It’s important to remember that CIM funding can only be spent on mitigating the potential effects of Hinkley Point C, such as traffic congestion. But it also means we can take up the opportunities afforded by such a huge project by attracting some of the hundreds of workers at the construction site to visit Minehead and so support local businesses. There’s information and guidance available online here: www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/CIM
EDF Energy’s head of stakeholder engagement for Hinkley Point C, David Eccles, said: "We’re delighted Minehead will be able to use this money to boost tourism in the town.
"The academy and regeneration project will create a lasting legacy for the town and is exactly the kind of investment that we’d hoped our Hinkley Point C community funding would support.”
The overall project to make Minehead the go-to seaside destination is likely to cost around £1m. The successful CIM bid, coupled with £130,000 awarded by the Government under the Coastal Communities initiative, means that two-thirds of the funding is now in place – with further funding bids in the pipeline.
The regeneration of the seafront will not only support tourism but also provide Minehead with a lasting legacy. There are plans to encourage more seafront tourism attractions to make sure visitors thoroughly enjoy their time in the resort, while with the CCF funds six Edwardian shelters will be restored, converting one as a pilot project to become a trading post and a festival and Harbour market are also in the pipeline.
The new hospitality and tourism academy will establish Minehead as a centre of excellence, providing local people with practical skills and raise standards in one of West Somerset’s key industries.
A Business Improvement District (BID) in Minehead will give local businesses a greater say in issues affecting the town and its trade and could release extra funding, if backed by businesses.
Graham Sizer, who is involved in the Coastal Communities Team and the Chamber of Trade, said that while the BID element of the overall funding was relatively small, it could make a huge difference. “Chamber members at the forefront of this project are passionate for its success,” he added.
The final strand of the overall project is to focus on marketing Minehead, its attractions and develop events, guided walks and a market at the Harbour. More detail can be found online here:
The CIM fund was secured from EDF Energy after West Somerset Council gave planning permission for the site at Hinkley Point to be prepared for the C station development. The aim is to improve the wellbeing of communities who are (or will be) affected by the development of Hinkley Point C or any of its associated off site projects.
Parish councils, Town council, community organisations, sports clubs and voluntary groups are all welcome to apply. Small grants are available up to £1000 with larger grants also available for those applicants that can successfully demonstrate how their project meets the CIM Fund’s criteria.
Projects and schemes MUST be directly linked to impacts of HPC and seek to improve the economic, social or environmental wellbeing of affected communities. Projects that seek to help communities benefit from the positive opportunities offered by the development are also being encouraged to apply.
The fund is administered by West Somerset Council in partnership with Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council and EDFE.
Debbie Rundle, Public & Media Relations Officer 01984 635280 or 01823 356407