Could Cleethorpes become the go-to destination of the Lincolnshire coast?
Imagine its seaside tourism industry booming as visitors flock to it rather than Skegness, Mablethorpe or Ingoldmells.
That’s the vision North East Lincolnshire Council has as it lays out its masterplan to guide the resort’s development over the next decade.
From the glorious beaches to the Victorian pleasure pier, Cleethorpes has no shortage of attractive features.
Wayne Hemmingway MBE, the award-winning designer who has put together the masterplan from thousands of residents’ voices, believes the town has got “more opportunity than any other place I have worked before.”
These designs will lay the groundwork for future Levelling Up bids and private investment.
So what would it take to establish Cleethorpes as the holiday capital of Lincolnshire?
Here are some of the issues – either long-running problems or challenges identified in the masterplan – that the council and resort will need to overcome.
Taking back the Market Place
“People kept asking ‘Can we have our market square back?’” Wayne Hemmingway said.
“It is functioning more as a car park at the moment.”
One of the town’s central hospitality areas is certainly underused at the moment.
The masterplan has proposed pedestrianising the area, and creating space for European-style outdoors dining.
The cars would need to move elsewhere (more on that later) but devoting the space to people enjoying food or drink would make it a bigger draw.
For first-time visitors venturing around the seafront, it would also be an obvious gateway to exploring more of the town.
Making staycations a real prospect
Private investment in more family-friendly staycation facilities could really help take the resort to the next level.
The masterplan suggests a beach hut community as one solution, while plans are also being drawn up for a Centre Parcs-type village on the former Wonderland.
Accomodation could be targeted at different markets depending on their location.
Would you prefer to be close to child-friendly attractions in the Central Promenade, or enjoy the beaches and nature further to the south?
If Cleethorpes can successfully pull this off, money would flow into its shops, cafés, restaurants and leisure centre.
Linking up the shopping and hospitality loop
Cleethorpes doesn’t have a shortage of retail or hospitality options.
There’s the not-so-hidden gem that is Sea View Street, with its great dining and bars. St Peter’s Avenue offers traditional shopping and Alexandra Road has a popular mix of amusements, fish and chip shops and cafés.
Together with the Market Square’s pubs and restaurants, they almost make four sides of a square.
The only bit missing is between St Peter’s Avenue and Sea View Road, where visitors could be forgiven for thinking they’ve reached the ‘end’ of the high street.
Instead of having them turn back, the masterplan wants to create a natural loop with a sense of ‘there’s always more to see in Cleethorpes’.
The answer could be as simple as signs to keep people walking.
Filling empty space in the North Promenade
The North Promenade undoubtedly looks the most rundown part of the seafront – in Wayne Hemmingway’s words, it needs some “love and attention”.
Wonderland said goodbye its last visitors in 2016, and there’s not much else to draw visitors.
The masterplan proposes an outdoor event space, a beach hut community and a skate park to fill the gaps left behind down that end of the promenade.
It’s important that something – anything – occupies the space to give the northern end a chance of its own rejuvenation.
Many holidaymakers simply don’t venture down that way, meaning local businesses are losing out.
Sorting out parking
A constant bugbear for both Cleethorpes residents and visitors is where to leave their car.
With car parks in good positions filling up quickly, tourists often turn to parking on residential streets to the annoyance of locals.
Half of this problem has been addressed with a council scheme to introduce parking permits for areas where this is a constant issue.
The local authority plans to tackle the shortage with a big investment in the Grant Street car park, where an extra 268 new spaces would be created.
One of the biggest headaches for tourists coming to Cleethorpes via the A180 is getting there.
They often face queues along Grimsby Road and Isaac’s Hill, particularly on sunny weekends and bank holidays.
One option which local councillors have called for is a park and ride, which would drastically cut the number of vehicles heading to Cleethorpes.
If people were able to leave their cars near the Pyewipe, a bus could drop them directly at the promenade.
There aren’t any plans for this at the moment though.
The council is hoping that the improved Grant Street car park will make the process of finding a spot much quicker, preventing cars crawling along the seafront.