Over the last four years we have seen our visitor numbers grow by around 130,000 visits to 430,000 and the number of nights we are open in the evenings for events to over 120, a third of the year. Bexhill was quite badly affected by the 2008 recession; however, these numbers seem to indicate that we continue to recover and the economy here in the town and wider region is growing. The new seafront, together with investment in Egerton Park and Bexhill Museum, has really helped to build a cohesive offer for residents and visitors alike, we have noticed a change in demographics and visitor trends as a result of this.
The new link road is having a range of benefits on the town, from the immediate impact of quicker travel times, to unlocking sites for new (bigger) businesses and new homes. We have noticed that the evening economy has started to develop, with existing cafes and restaurants expanding and new ones opening. We hope that our auditorium programme has helped to make this sustainable, alongside these other factors.
Our ambition is to continue to grow visitor numbers and the auditorium programme over the next five years.
Our own economic impact survey, back in 2007 identified that hotel provision in Bexhill town centre was critical in DLWP realising its full potential for local economic impact. We know that there are economic challenges in the town centre, and indeed to areas like the southern entrance to Sackville Road, where the 2008 recession took a blow to developments like De La Warr Heights. In our work with the Bexhill Town Team, the Chamber of Commerce and Coastal Community Team, we know that joining the retail town centre with the seafront is critical for the town to prosper and touch points like this are really off-putting to customers.
We believe that a new hotel would help to unlock further spend in the town. As I write we are hosting a major East Sussex Business Conference with 300 delegates, and there is not enough room capacity for them to stay in the town. We have the capacity to attract more visitors, do more events, more conferences, more weddings, but hotel capacity will hold us back and prevent growth in overnight stays.
We see existing hotel and B&B’s as a critical part of the offer, and welcome new investment into accommodation from Sea Spray Rooms to the works going on at Cooden Beach Hotel. We want people to have choice and to build a critical mass of quality providers and we will work hard to promote these businesses through DLWP and 1066 Country.
The appropriate size and impact of any development are always challenging. We are keen to support investment in Bexhill because we feel that there is a real opportunity to build the local economy and for skills development and employment. The debate over appropriate sites, size and issues like parking are very important, but I would urge you to support those willing to invest in Bexhill to find the right solution for the town.Posted by Laura Sayers on Tuesday 8 November 2016