River Crouch Coastal Community Economic Draft Development Plan

New Coastal team to promote tourism on the Crouch                                                                             

    Maldon District Council together with Rochford District Council is bringing together businesses, councillors, community officers, community volunteers and leisure representatives to form one    group to promote tourism on the River Crouch.   A grant of £10,000 has been obtained from the Department of Communities, to draw up and consult on an integrated  plan across District boundaries, using the River Crouch as the main focus point to  share ideas on how best to promote the area.  Once  the plan is complete it is then planned  to secure funding  from Europe to implement the plan over a 6 year timeframe. 

At a meeting on at Brandy Hole a diverse group representing the Crouch valley community as a whole ( including CAYF representatives, CHA Harbourmaster and CHA members)  met together to  gather and discuss how best to promote tourism and leisure activities as an Economic Plan.   With the other stakeholders we  identifid a range of  initial  ideas, issues of funding and possible barriers to progress.  Stage 1 which is the completion of a plan identifying objectives and the economic delivery  is to be completed by March 2016.

The Draft Plan for consultation is shown below:-

 

 COASTAL COMMUNITY TEAMS DRAFT - ECONOMIC PLAN


1 Name of CCT 

The River Crouch Coastal Community Team


2 Single Point of Contact (SPOC), 

Kerry Martin
Economic Development Manager
Maldon District Council
Council Offices
Princes Road
Maldon
Essex
CM9 5DL
01621 875846
kerry.martin@maldon.gov.uk


3(a) CCT Membership Names and position, e.g. resident, Local Councillor 

Coastal Community Team Membership will be confirmed subsequent to the initial meeting

3(b) CCT Membership Other partners and/or stakeholders to be involved.

As above


4 Accountable Body Local Authority Contact name & details

Maldon District Council
kerry.martin@maldon.gov.uk

Does the Accountable Body have a representative on the CCT membership?

Yes


5 Local Area Provide brief geographical description of the locality and a brief history if
relevant.
 

The tidal reaches of the River Crouch downstream from Battlesbridge on both banks of the river down to and including Foulness Island and Paglesham on the southern bank and out to Holliwell Point on the northern bank and northwards to Asheldham Brook.

6 Context – community (suggested maximum 300 words) Description of local community
with demographics.

On the northern bank the major town is Burnham on Crouch (pop 7671) and neighbouring Southminster (4272). Moving downstream are the villages of North Fambridge (835), and the town of South Woodham Ferrers (16629). On the south bank are the villages of Hullbridge (6527), South Fambridge/Ashingdon (3634), Canewdon (1473) Foulness (151) and Paglesham (246).


7 Context – economy (suggested maximum 400 words) Local economy, e.g. business,
tourism, manufacture, etc, ‘Starting point’

There is mixed arable and livestock farming on both banks with a number of vineyards being planted in recent years on the north bank as it has a microclimate found suitable for the growing of sparkling wine grapes. Towards the mouth of the river the land is predominantly arable. On the south bank near the mouth is the commercial port of the Baltic Wharf, and beyond that the RSPB Wallasea Island reserve. Marine leisure activities are important with 3 marinas along the river and countless moorings.

On the north bank runs the Crouch Valley branch line and at peak times direct trains run to London, so this area has a number of commuters. There are small mixed industrial estates at both Burnham and SWF.

On the south bank there are a number of horticultural businesses which serve the South East Essex/Southend conurbation which is directly south. There are a number of caravan and camping sites on both sides of the river. The south bank has relatively easy road access to the direct commuter train line into London and the conurbation around Southend for employment purposes, though there are a number of small businesses located in old farm buildings.

Baltic Wharf on the south side near the mouth imports and stock holds both timber and steel for construction usage. Due to the commercial usage, and because of the commercial usage the buoyage and channel of the Crouch are well maintained, thus benefiting yachtsmen and leisure sailors. This is the responsibility of the Crouch Harbour Commissioners who are a key stakeholder within the team.

8 Related initiatives What else is going on in the community of economic importance, e.g. BID, LEP, CIC, CCF, CRF

Maldon District Council currently has a Coastal Communities Fund programme ‘Dengie Gateway Project’, which covers the north bank of the river. The area covered by the CCT is included in the Essex Rivers LEADER LAG. 

EAFRD Growth Fund funding is available to rural areas via SELEP.

Heritage Lottery Funding is also available for funding heritage projects.


CCT Plan
9 Ambition A positive statement of the aims and objectives of the plan and a description of what it will achieve. Description of ‘what success will look like’.

The River Crouch Coastal Community Team will facilitate and support the growth of the local economy through developing a sustainable visitor offer by concentrating on the river users and associated businesses operating on the land adjoining the river.

Success will be an improved tourism offer, a greater and more varied commercial offer for businesses and an improved infrastructure for access to the River Crouch. 


10 Needs of the community and intentions of the team to meet them. Identify the socio-economic needs of the community and the opportunities to meet them. Each element
should be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.

The main issue identified is the fact that currently the river divides the two halves of the population, whereas it could unite them.

North of the river, Burnham and other villages feel isolated despite having access to the Crouch Valley Branch line. Reaching any major conurbation by road is at least a 45 minute drive from the easterly fringes of the Dengie Peninsula.

South of the river road and rail connections need improvement and better accessibility for the people living there. People from both sides of the river have indicated that more and better river crossings are key to the economy of the river growing.


11 Analysis Describe the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats in meeting the needs at 10 (a). 


Strengths:
The river itself and its natural beauty.  The historical nature of the river and the attractiveness of the yachting and waterborne leisure activities The fact that the Crouch is still a commercial river is important and the impact that that has upon river users. The river is available at most states of the tide fairly well upstream. 

The river offers sailing, rowing kayaking, water-skiing, fishing and paddle-boarding and river boat/ferry trips as leisure activities.

On shore there is an extensive network of footpaths for walking including the sea wall on both sides of the river. 

Near the mouth of the river is the RSPB Wallasea Island reserve. When complete it is envisaged to be the largest man made nature reserve in western Europe, and a major overwintering site for wading and sea birds.

Its isolation and peacefulness, yet proximity to major population centres and within four miles of Southend Airport make it an accessible wilderness. 


Weaknesses:
The isolation that is seen as a strength is conversely seen as a weakness, as the area is not easily accessible to all, especially those using public transport. Both sides of the river suffer from poor transport infrastructure-especially busses, and because of the small
populations, poor infrastructure in general is a major issue.

Climate change and rising sea levels combined with poor maintenance of the sea wall raise the risk of flooding, though the developments at Wallasea Island will help with flood alleviation further downstream.

Feedback suggests that river access is good, although there are a limited number of slipways and access points to the river.

The population of both sides of the river  is aging in line with general rural populations as young people see few opportunities for the future and move to cities where opportunities are greater.

Chelmsford City Council, of which South Woodham Ferrers is a part of, is seen as a potential partner.


Opportunities:
Linking the north and south banks by a new ferry or series of ferries, including a vehicle carrier and a river bus, linking communities along the river has been suggested.

The England Coastal Path, due to be fully open in 2020 is a major opportunity to attract new people to enjoy what the river has to offer.

Developing and enhancing the tourism/visitor offer to include better accommodation and food and drink provision. To improve and expand the walking, running, cycling and nature pursuits of outdoor activities, in conjunction to the sailing and water sports, are seen as an opportunity.

Overall it is seen that there is huge potential but better use has to be made of the river, its coast and surrounding areas to drive the offer and economy forward.

Better promotion of the Crouch’s historical background is required. The site of the Battle of Ashingdon (Assandune), investigating HMS  Beagle, Roman Red Hills and other historical remnants abound along the banks, as well as Burnham’s rich sailing history and its importance as a yachting centre.


Threats:
Climate change and rising sea levels, combined with poor maintenance of the sea wall and its footpath pose a threat of both flooding and inaccessibility.

Whilst development is going to happen, due to national housing shortages it needs to be carried out in a planned and sympathetic way without swamping local services thus destroying the unique nature of the area.


12 Data – while an essential element of the plan, it could be included in a ‘daughter’
document. Provide evidence to support the intentions of the plan. This will include statistical data but broader data should also be included. Data used should be specific, relevant and transparent. It is sufficient to reference evidence held elsewhere.

Maldon and Rochford district councils undertook an online survey and organised a workshop to gather data from interested relevant parties regarding the formation of the Coastal Community Team and its Strategy and Plans going forward.

Maldon District Tourism Strategy Research (2007) carried out by East of England Tourism

Tourism Value and Volume Report 2015 – Visit Essex Dengie Gateway Project Report- Ingham Pinnock (2014)

RSPB Data.
River Crouch Celebrations Evaluation Report


Delivering the Plan
13 Key projects and/or bodies of work. High level description of discrete pieces of work showing CCT role, indicative partners and timescales. 

To support the sustainable development of the area’s tourism offer and continue to identify opportunities and work positively to resolve discrete issues in liaison with other groups and pieces of work.

14 Short term goals/actions What will the team achieve in the next 6 months?Should demonstrate ‘quick wins’

The Team will formulate, meet and set  out a calendar for future meetings.

The Team will agree TOR and elect a   Chair.

The Team will review agree and publish the Economic Plan.

The team will identify and liaise with key stakeholders to ensure their buy-in to the CCT’s plan.

The team will liaise with marketing initiatives currently planned and underway, to ensure maximum promotion of the area.

The Team will discuss the carrying out of a:
• Mapping exercise
• Improved Signage
• Funding local events
• Business engagement event.

The Team will carry out a mapping exercise to identify future funding opportunities


15 Performance measures For first 6 months – to be SMART

To be agreed at the CCT January meeting

16 Medium term goals/actions For 6mths to 5 years

To be agreed at future CCT meetings.

To explore the opportunities for greater cross river communications and travel, resulting in greater availability of cross river transport.

Seek additional funding for projects.


17 Performance measures For 6mths to 5 years – to be SMART

To have investigated the potential of upgraded cross river ferry/ferries.


18 Long term goals and actions Optiona. Strategic plans beyond 5 years – include
performance measures where appropriate.

To be agreed at future CCT meetings

19 Barriers Identify any barriers to delivering theplan and if you have contingencies to
manage them.

• Funding
• Sustainability of CCT
• Cross river communications and travel


20 Resources Who and what will be required to deliver each element of the plan. Include ‘in kind’ services, volunteers, etc. demonstrate how local expertise will be utilised and/or grown.

Commitment from Maldon District Council, Rochford District Council, Essex County Council and key stakeholders.

Commitment from partners and volunteers and the voluntary sector.

Financial commitment to ensure that key projects are funded and delivered Via stakeholders

To be agreed by CCT at January and future meetings.


21 Costs Detail of costs of each element of plan.

All costs are indicative and subject to CCT approval:

Subsequent meetings - £250

Publish the Economic Plan - £250

Feasibility study to address access issues – £4000

Engagement activities - £500

Signage/Transport review £0.


22 Value What is the value of the plan to the local economy?

The value will be an improved tourism offer, a greater and more varied commercial offer for businesses and an improved infrastructure for access to the River Crouch.


23 Funding Identification of funding streams and how costs of project(s) will or could be met. LEADER Funding could be sought for a number of different projects including discussions to develop ferry and accommodation projects.

There is still (in the short term) funding available from Magnox’ Socio- Economic Fund which is aimed at mitigating the impact of the closure of decommissioning works at Bradwell I on the northern bank of the river.

SELEP is the main conduit for public sector funding and EU funding such as ESF/ERDF/EAFRD


24 Maximising resources and costs Describe how this will be minimised, e.g. shared services, use of technology, avoidance of bureaucracy, etc.

 It is anticipated that CCT members will be able to support future meetings and offer venues. Costs are not  expected to exceed £250.

Through the use of the Councils’, and other members, web presence and social media accounts, it is expected that publicising and printing the Economic Plan will not exceed £250.

Through existing links with local schools and other stakeholder groups, future engagement activities are expected to yield a significant amount of interest and creative ideas for minimal outlays, approximately £500 will be allocated to this.

It is hoped that CCT members will take responsibility for undertaking the proposed reviews. It is hoped that this will not only assist identifying opportunities in the future, but also improve the visitor information available.


Communications
25 Consultation Describe existing results of consultations and planned consultation
exercises.

An on-line survey was prepared and distributed widely to a database of key stakeholders and potential partners as per the original bid. Subsequently a consultation meeting was held on 21st October 2015 for interested parties to
attend.

As a result of these consultations the main focus of the River Crouch Coastal Community Team and its plans remained on developing a stronger visitor economy based around the River.

The draft plan will be sent out for feedback, and the final plan widely distributed.

As the work of the team progresses the plan will undergo updates and amendments as the team becomes more embedded and different opportunities and projects arise.


26 Describe plans to involve and inform partners and other bodies, including
accountable body, CCA and DCLG.

Maldon District Council as the Accountable Body will discharge their obligations in communicating the plan to DCLG within the agreed timescales 

Maldon District Council are actively involved in the CCA and will inform the group.


27 Communication with community How will the community and stakeholders be involved and informed of progress and outcomes

Maldon District Council (the accountable body) is setting up a dedicated microsite on their own website to communicate issues regarding the Team. Rochford District Council is also promoting this microsite via their council website.

Regular announcements will be made by MDC/RDC through social media and detailing the progress that the CCT has made, future plans and success stories.


CCT Logistics
28 Management of team How the team will operate, frequency of meetings, centrality of team to projects, etc. How the team is representative of the community.

The logistics and management of the Team will be discussed and ratified at the January CCT meeting.


29 Support structure Network of support built to enable CCT to deliver the economic plan

The CCT will utilise social media to support Team members to feel informed and  supported and support the delivery of the economic plan.


30 Costs Running costs of CCT itself
It is anticipated that CCT members will be able to support future meetings and offer venues. The only costs expected will be minimal.


31 Sustainability Long term plan for team and how this will be managed.

The sustainability and long term plan for the CCT will be discussed and ratified at subsequent Team meetings.


32 Areas of Specific Interest Provide areas of on which you would wish to join a working group or network (virtual or otherwise), e.g. arts, tourism,housing, piers,,sport, transport, heritage, marketing etc.

• Sustainable Tourism
• River usage
• Economic Growth

To be agreed at January CCT meeting