Friday, January 27, 2017

Spurn Visitor Centre proposal approved.

In a bewildering reversal of the decision taken previously to reject the proposal, the requisite Planning Committee of East Yorkshire Council on Thursday approved the new submission by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to build a new visitor centre at Spurn. Such was claimed to be revised and updated but, in all honesty, very little appeared to be in evidence in the details put forward.  This is to be funded by Eon via an alledged grant of  £900,000.

This is not the latest image of what the Centre will look like nor is the mast part of the application, but the general idea is authentic!!

The proposal has been controversial at best and attracted over 700 objections and less than a third of this figure from those in support. It has polarized the local community, the majority of whom were adamantly against the idea , not least based on the questionable management of the site by the Trust in the past and the dismissive relationship it offered the local residents. That very recent efforts have now been made by the Trust to address this situation in the form of creating a liaison group is most probably a step too late and it seems more likely that their every action will be closely and critically monitored.

I fully appreciate the reasons why the Trust might need to maximise visitor attendance and income from the site and the various management challenges which are now present associated with the site, but I remain unconvinced that this proposal is a viable option. Sadly there's a rock and a hard place dimension to this scenario.  Accepting the current level of attendance clearly generates insufficient income to cover the required routine management and increasing management tasks to do with safety any management body would critically examine other solutions. Extending the facilities puts inevitable pressure on a series of fragile habitats and, lets face it , on a diminishing land holding given the inevitable likelihood of further inundations by the sea and extensive erosion.  But beyond all these sort of issues that have concerned people, the projections of visitor attendance, I believe, are optimistic at best and will be the ultimate downfall of the whole initiative. Beyond the first couple of years, when curiosity and top heavy site promotion might see the figures suggested being realised , I honestly believe things will then deteriorate significantly resulting in the Centre operating part time and then closing altogether as the negative cost ratios will leave little alternative.

I admit to having objected to the proposal on that basis.  I don't envy the dilemma which otherwise would need to be addressed by the Trust and also admit that I have no sure fire alternative which might even be tried. But a decision has now been taken and it is necessary to abide by the outcome and see what happens.It's pointless being negative, aggressive or despondent on the one hand or unnecessarily promote the success of the proposal as a victory either. At the end of the day it is Spurn and its future which is important and I guess , whatever "side" you're on, there's some serious reflection to indulge in as far as what that future might entail.

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