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Hythe Forward plan aims to get Hythe back on course
A NEW project will finally break the “stagnation” stopping the regeneration of the Hythe , it has been pledged.
Colchester Council has awarded social housing provider Colne Housing £30,000 to start a community-led scheme, called Hythe Forward.
The firm believes, by next spring, a powerful community group with sway over local authorities and funds will be ready to restart the regeneration of Colchester’s former port.
Robert Ashton, a social enterprise consultant hired by Colne Housing, said: “By that point we would hope Hythe Forward will have a board of directors, will have money coming in from other places and there will be some momentum.”
Mr Ashton, who calls himself the Barefoot Entrepreneur, said available funds coupled with the Government’s Big Society scheme meant the time was right for Hythe Forward.
He added: “It will break the inertia which has held the place back for so long. The Hythe seems to have been Colchester’s problem child for quite a few years.
“I don’t think anybody has stepped back and got everyone together and said this is what we have to do.”
Talks have been held with residents, community groups, businesses and landowners with the aim of forming a community group, with legal powers to hold assets in the Hythe and win grants.
The new organisation would then choose what it wants to do.
Examples include taking over responsibility for cleaning up the area, taking on derelict buildings and building social housing.
Similar groups include the Woodthorpe Development Trust, in Sheffield, which runs community projects, supports local schools, and organises childcare and activities for youngsters.
Next month, a public meeting will be held in the Hythe, where residents will be asked to get involved in the new group and have their say.
Phil Rose, an expert from Foundation East, will explain how such groups can attract funds for schemes.
Alistair Heron, community development officer, said the area’s regeneration had been stifled by fragmented land ownership. He also said the the loss of identity which went with the decline of the shipping industry and the economic downturn, had played a part.
He said: “There’s a lot of signs of stagnation, which is understandable. But everyone we have spoken to – landowners, business people, residents and community groups – all see what is in it for them.”
To find out more, e-mail alistair. firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01206 244757.