Participation Urged in South Coast Planning

The pressure for residential development of waterfront locations is putting a squeeze on marine businesses.

Marine South East, the regional marine initiative of the South East of England Development Agency (SEEDA), hosted the region's first Open Forum last month to discuss the Waterfront Strategy or the country's South East region. The forum brought together businesses, planning officers and regional organisations to raise the profile of issues involving the waterfront.

Under discussion was the critical need for marine businesses to take action to ensure that their voice is heard and that they have a say in the development of the Regional Spatial Strategy and the Local Development Frameworks. There is now limited opportunity to have a say in how these are developed, but if businesses and individuals act now they can still be involved.

With ever growing pressure to increase residential developments over the coming years, especially in waterfront locations, it is vital that marine businesses have plans in place to ensure that this does not result in marine businesses being squeezed out of planning decisions.

With a turnover of £10.8bn in 2004, the South East marine industry again proves to be one of the leading marine regions in the country, with more than 20% of market share. The regional growth rate of 27% over the last decade is also well ahead of the national average of 19%.

The forum discussed the need to plan ahead for industrial provision in developments and balance the issues faced by mixing residential and industrial uses. The importance of the marine industry for developing tourism and the resulting demand for marina facilities was also raised. Crews visiting the region spend an estimated £22.5m per year. Other topics included the complicated procedures for marine businesses wanting to develop along the coastline and the vast range of different authorities in charge in these areas.

The importance of the marine industry to the local economy was also at the forefront of discussion. There is an increasing need for the industry to work harder to make itself understood and make people realise the positive economic impact it has on local areas.

Speaking at the Open Forum, Marine South East chief executive Jonathan Williams said, 'It is imperative that Marine South East takes the initiative to ensure maritime industry participation within the strategic planning process. As a result of discussion at the Forum, we are now working to address the issues which should achieve this vital objective.'

For further information, contact Helen Allies at 01273 833901 or 07946 589472, Email: helen@cityandstone.co.uk

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