People are key to successful regeneration

Alan Campbell officially opening the new Spanish City plaza.

Alan Campbell officially opening the new Spanish City plaza.

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Last week the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) came to Westminster to brief MPs about its work in the north east.

I went along to hear about the projects it has funded and to see what lessons can be learned about future awards.

Our area has done well from the HLF, receiving nearly £11m in the last 20 years. Some have been big awards, such as funding for the Dome, Northumberland and Richardson Dees public parks and the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House. Others have supported local groups, including the Tynemouth WWI Commemoration Project and the Shiremoor and District Children’s Treat.

The bigger awards often need local authority support, and having a mayor who can bring direction and accountability to regeneration has been important.

I met with representatives of the Whitley Bay Big Local Plan for an update on the plans they have for community regeneration. One of 150 local groups in the scheme, it is working hard to identify ways of improving our area and making a difference.

I will be meeting ministers soon to discuss seaside towns and to see how government, local and national, can further develop the potential from tourism and physical regeneration. The success of regeneration to me is about bringing together financial resources with our most important asset – the people who live here.