Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Newspaper column 16 December 2015 - Coastal Revival Fund and more

The St Austell Bay area has a unique and important industrial past that should be preserved and celebrated.  When vast swathes of green fields were dug up over the last 250 years, the clay miners could not have predicted they were in the process of creating a unique environment that would still be with us in the 21st Century.  The Eden Project is a reminder of what is possible and the potential for more innovative development remains.

The iconic Sky Tip is in the news again and I agree this is an important reminder of our china clay heritage. I meet regularly with the Imerys management team and they have consistently assured me they do not intend to change or remove the Sky Tip in any material way.  I am aware a number of local people have signed a petition to get UNESCO to register the tip as an industrial heritage site. Whilst it remains to be seen whether this is likely, I certainly will do all I can to ensure this iconic landmark is preserved for the future.

We are fortunate to live in an area that has a number of heritage assets. This past week has been an important week for two other such assets in this area. On Friday the Department for Communities and Local Government announced the Coastal Revival Fund Awards for 2015/16. 

The Coastal Revival Fund is designed to kick start the regeneration of at-risk coastal heritage sites.  The St Austell Bay area was designated as eligible to apply to this fund through its local Coastal Community Team.  The St Austell Bay Economic Forum applied for, and was confirmed as the Coastal Community Team in July 2015.

Two bids were put together in a relatively short space of time and happily both bids were successful.  This was despite applications to the fund being three times over-subscribed.  The Minister for Local Government, Marcus Jones, wrote to me last week and confirmed that the two applications from this area were among the 77 successful bids.   

St Austell’s Market House has been granted £49,000 for its renovation and regeneration. The Market House is a big part of the town’s history and is a key heritage asset in the center of St Austell. The project will consider the elements of potential uses and layouts of the building, community engagement, feasibility scenarios and sustainable business planning to feed into a larger and very significant Heritage Lottery Fund application. 

Efforts to preserve and conserve St Blazey Roundhouse and Turntable have been awarded £50,000. There are plans to revitalise this space as an engineering training centre and community asset, contributing to the economy of St Blazey and Cornwall. The roundhouse and turntable are two of the few intact reminders of the Steam Age in Cornwall, and I think it is important we preserve this history.

Congratulations to all those behind the two successful bids. This is a great step forward for these projects and I am glad the Government have recognised their importance.  I look forward to watching these two projects move forward with this welcome boost in funding.