The Dengie Peninsular: An economic development action plan

Supporting the council to create an economic development action plan which addressed the key issues and challenges and engaged all stakeholders in delivery and support activity and creating a new perception of Dengie as a place to grow businesses. This case study forms part of our economic growth case study resource.


Rationale for project

Partnership working – seeking solutions Issues

The key issue was to find ways to address the loss of some 900 skilled jobs resulting from the closure of Bradwell Power Station in 2015. The project sought to engage with elected Members, businesses, key stakeholders and community representatives who wished to contribute thoughts and ideas, which would in turn inform an action plan. Without intervention at this level, it was anticipated that the Dengie area would not be in a position to recover from the loss of some 900 jobs provided by the power station. It is anticipated that the projects and initiatives outlined in the plan will have a positive impact on employment opportunities created through business start-up support and the Dengie tourism offer.

Key Actions/ how your project was delivered

Approach

There was a desktop review of key background documents including all previous economic impact studies commissioned by the district council and other agencies. Site visits were undertaken to Burnham-on-Crouch, Wallasea Island, Stow Maries, Maldon and the wider Dengie Peninsula on a number of occasions during the course of the instruction. These visits enabled the consultants to gain a clear understanding of the scope of the challenge and to encourage stakeholders to share their views and opinions. Face to face and telephone consultations were held with a number of local stakeholders, organisations, and Officers from departments across Maldon District Council, Essex County Council and English Heritage. These discussions enabled the consultants to gather evidence and examples of other good practice which would eventually support their own project proposals. Research into known examples of relevant best practice and the consultants’ own experiences of similar projects elsewhere were also factored into all of the advice, ideas and recommendations. Case studies provided in the report included the Broads Tourism Forum, Suffolk Tourist Trail, and the Heart of Suffolk. These particular case studies supported the activity being proposed in the report.

Key Actions:

1. Identified key stakeholders and local businesses and secured their interest in the project.
2. Effected introductions for the appointed consultants and provided background information on consultees as appropriate.

Barriers:

  • Coordinating meeting times and locations

Scope:

  • The broad scope of the appointment was to consider projects and programmes that could support the economic development and regeneration of the Dengie Peninsula. Through discussion it was agreed that the commission would focus efforts on maximising the economic development potential of the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project that is due to open in 2016. It was also suggested that any advice should focus on the tourism sector as a means of mitigating the likely negative economic impact of the closure of the Bradwell nuclear power station in 2015, the relative under-performance of Burnham-onCrouch and the poor recognition outside the area of the various assets within the Dengie Peninsula.

Continuation:

  • Work on identifying intervention opportunities will continue through the Bradwell Power Station Legacy Partnership, and through other project opportunities created from the delivery of the district’s economic prosperity strategy.

Key Findings and Outputs Key Outputs:

1. A clearer understanding of the issues facing the Dengie area. These included a fragmented approach to marketing, limited take-up of business support services, declining support for events and activities, and visible connections in Burnham between the high street, the waterfront, Wallasea Island and the marina.

2. An economic development action plan supported by case studies including:

  • the Broads Tourism Forum which works with the Broads Authority to promote Norfolk & Suffolk Broads;
  • The Heart of Suffolk branding and marketing campaign launched in 2014;
  • Using works of art to create global publicity and interest;
  • Suffolk A1120 Tourist Trail guiding visitors from major arterial routes to Southwold. Links to these web sites are provided in the final report.

Key Findings:

1. The enthusiasm shown by individuals and organisations to become engaged in some way or other with employment and tourism development. (This support has certainly helped with the formation of a Bradwell Legacy Partnership group which has been established to identify and drive project activity across the Dengie Peninsula.)

2. The wealth of interest shown by individuals and organised groups in promoting the Dengie as a place live, visit, grow a business and enjoy.

3. The number of tourist based assets and events which continue to attract high levels of interest.

4. Investment and activity will be monitored to ensure that it has a visible and measurable impact on the economic well-being of the Dengie. Evidence from early work, including data from initial feasibility studies, will be used to support bids for significantly larger intervention projects. _

Economic benefits

It is anticipated that measureable economic benefits from the projects will be slow to emerge. The newly formed Bradwell Power Station Legacy Partnership will monitor the impact of all interventions through a range of high-level data sets (NOMIS) and local research. Economic activity will also be monitored by the Council. Local intelligence gathered from organised business groups will also be extremely helpful in monitoring impact of project activity.

The creation of new employment and business investment opportunities will no doubt reduce the burden on welfare support caused through unemployment. Key areas of work for the Bradwell Legacy Partnership to address will include:

  • Providing access to professional business support and advice
  • Lobbying for suitable and affordable premises for new business start-ups
  • Establishing a Dengie Tourism group
  • And finding ways to improve access to high speed Broadband.

This activity will seek to increase employment and growth opportunities for existing businesses, support the creation of new and sustainable businesses, improve the tourism offer, and raise the overall profile of the area.

The economic development action plan will also act as a catalyst to kick-start other economic activity, which will no doubt encourage further investment in project activity from the public and private sectors.