Eastbourne Borough Council is forging ahead with ambitious plans for projects across the town to strengthen the visitor economy following its successful £19.8 million Levelling Up bid from government.
Ahead of submitting the bid, a stakeholder group was set up and more than 45 initial projects were discussed extensively with the following three schemes chosen, which met the bidding criteria:
- Victoria Place: the creation of a vibrant, pedestrianised cultural district, including the refurbishment of commercial units, with excellent cafes and restaurants serving food and drink all year round and boosting Eastbourne’s night-time economy.
- Black Robin Farm: to create a world-class cultural, education and visitor centre on a former dairy farm on the Downs that will firmly establish Eastbourne as the eastern gateway to the National Park, creating more than 5,000 learning opportunities per year.
- Towner 2023: a programme of public art and visitor trails to celebrate the history and culture of Eastbourne, linking with the centenary celebrations of the Towner gallery. This combines with some small-scale investments in the gallery itself to enhance learning and visitor facilities.
Councillor David Tutt, Leader of the Council, said: “It’s a really exciting time for Eastbourne as we seize this opportunity to breathe new life into a key part of the town centre, making a stronger connection with our beautiful seafront and the South Downs National Park.
“Eastbourne was one of just four councils in East and West Sussex to receive this money, so this is a notable achievement and a huge well done to everyone involved so far.
“The stakeholder group assessed dozens of great ideas in preparation for the bid and agreed that Victoria Place, Black Robin Farm and Towner 2023 would have the most positive impact for the town. Like so many residents and business people, I greatly look forward to these exciting schemes being realised.”
The stakeholder group comprised councillors, Caroline Ansell, Eastbourne and Willingdon MP; Christina Ewbank, CEO of Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce (who chaired the group); Eastbourne Hospitality Association; the Your Eastbourne Business Improvement District and the East Sussex College Group and others.
A detailed programme of works will now be drawn up including the development of project briefs; feasibility and survey work; legal, financial and commercial due diligence; and engagement with key stakeholders as well as the South Downs National Park.
A board is also being established to oversee the work being carried out.
Councillor Tutt added: “All Levelling Up funds must be spent by March 2024 so we are driving ahead with these projects which will further enhance our cultural and tourism offer and ensure Eastbourne’s continued status as one of the UK’s most popular coastal towns to live, work and visit.”