Le Strange statue in Hunstanton heritage restoration plan

Around �1.3 million is to be spent on regenerating Hunstanton's Heritage Gardens
Around �1.3 million is to be spent on regenerating Hunstanton's Heritage Gardens
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A lifesize bronze statue of Hunstanton’s founder, Henry Le Strange, is set to be part of a £1.3 million regeneration of the resort, it has emerged.

Business leaders have been praised for their campaign, which has raised more than £30,000 towards the tribute that will now form part of the restoration of the resort’s heritage gardens .

But questions have been raised over the amount of money being committed to the project.

Almost £1 million of Heritage Lottery funding was secured for the project in July. That will be added to nearly £300,000 of investment from West Norfolk Council.

A presentation on the project was delivered to the borough council’s regeneration and development manager on Tuesday.

Jemma Curtis, the authority’s regeneration programmes manager, told them: “We could have done piecemeal repairs of these areas over a period of time but they wouldnt have produced a comprehensive restoration project that will have a much longer lasting legacy.”

The meeting was also told that £32,000 had been generated for the statue appeal, which has been led by the resort’s chamber of trade.

Ms Curtis said the precise siting of the statue had not yet been determined, but it would be in the area of the Heritage Lottery bid.

She said: “The principle is we want him looking out torwards the sea.”

And council deputy leader Alistair Beales said it was a “great initiative.”

But former cabinet member David Pope questioned what he saw as an apparent lack of local investment in the project.

He asked: “How has Hunstanton pulled off the snatch of the century in contributing £3,020, a miniscule amount?

“Upwell parish council paid double that amount for a trod (a road safety initiative).”

But Mr Beales said money was being drawn from budgets allocated towards a masterplan for the resort.

He said: “We’ll see a first class regeneration of something that has a huge commercial impact.

“It’s a political choice this council has made and I think it’s the right one.”

He also praised the role of community representatives and council officers in the project, adding: “I’ve no doubt they will see this through to conclusion.”

The meeting was also told that the resort attracts around 850,000 visitors a year.

And Mr Beales added: “We talk about presenting the borough to people. I’ve been up there the last couple of weeks and its been rammed, day after day after day.”

Work on the project is expected to begin in January with most of the project, which is described as a “comprehensive restoration” of the seaside park, set to be completed by the spring.

Ms Curtis said the work would be completed in phases.

An activity co-ordinator is also set to be appointed to oversee a three year programme of initiatives related to the project.