Grand plans to restore and revamp Brighton’s crumbling Madeira Terraces have been dealt a blow with the news the Government has turned down a funding bid.
Brighton and Hove council leader Warren Morgan this morning hit out at the decision, saying the Government had not even sent Brighton and Hove City Council an email to inform them.
The requested £4million in funding from the Coastal Communities Fund would have been used to repair the terraces and build new units so that businesses such as shops and cafes could attract more people to them, and the rents and rates would pay for their ongoing upkeep.
The council would also have contributed, and sought private investment funding too.
Cllr Morgan said: “It appears we have not been given the £4m funding for the Terraces restoration from Government we bid for. We have not even been given the courtesy of an email to let us know.
“I am bitterly disappointed and angry with the Government. Yet again they have let us down, first they failed to invest in our rail infrastructure, now they are failing to invest even a modest amount in our seafront heritage and tourism infrastructure.
“This was seed funding that would have enabled us to get going on the project with private investment and matched funding from the city council. Our bid was strong and the response before today was positive, so I cannot understand why the Government has let us down so badly.
“Our local MP and Government Minister Simon Kirby has some serious questions to answer, and serious questions to ask his Conservative colleagues about why they think Brighton and Hove does not matter.
“If confirmed I shall be writing to Simon Kirby today to seek answers on why our bid has been refused.”
In response, Mr Kirby said he would be continuing to lobby for Government funding for the project. He said: “I have immediately taken up this matter with DCLG.
“I have always been a strong voice for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, happy to work with all local councils and will do my best to continue to lobby for the money.”
The council only discovered it had not been awarded the funding when other areas announced they had been successful and Government visits were scheduled.
Later in the morning, the full list was published by the Government – and Brighton was not on it. Areas which have been awarded the money include Hastings, Blackpool, Southport, Plymouth and Lowestoft.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said there had been applications for grants totalling twice the available money. He added: “Given the strong competition for grants from the Costal Communities Fund, we’re only able to support the strongest applications.
“We understand those unsuccessful in this round will be disappointed, but we’d encourage them to reapply later this year.”
The proposed uses for units in the revamped terraces included shops, cafes or spaces for creative small businesses – and even hotel rooms or a youth hostel.
The council’s plans envisioned this could be done in three phases – the first restoring a third of the structure at a cost of £8m, which would have been part paid for by the CCF money, and half through other means, possibly a Public Works Loans Board loan as used to help build the i360.
Having got the scheme underway, and improved the area, the remaining sections would be restored mainly on a commercial basis, using investment from businesses.
If the CCF bid had been successful, the first phase could have been completed by 2020, and the whole of the terraces by 2023, creating 145 new jobs and adding £5million a year to the local economy. Today’s news it has not succeeded means that timeline is now unrealistic.
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