Telling the story of Lowestoft

In 2018, East Suffolk Council took part in a placemaking programme to understand the public perception of Lowestoft and the priorities of businesses, stakeholders, and the community, and to tell the ‘story’ of Lowestoft through identifying the qualities that make the place.

The challenge

Lowestoft is the UK’s most easterly town and the first place in the country to see the sunrise. The town began as an ancient fishing port and has evolved into an important centre for renewable offshore wind energy. Like many towns across the country, Lowestoft faces many challenges, especially during the pandemic, however there are ambitious plans to address these.

Lowestoft has a bright future ahead of it, and there is already significant investment taking place there, from the new Gull Wing crossing, a permanent flood defence scheme and the growing offshore energy sector.

The solution

In 2018, East Suffolk Council took part in a placemaking programme to understand the public perception of Lowestoft and the priorities of businesses, stakeholders, and the community, and to tell the ‘story’ of Lowestoft through identifying the qualities that make the place.

Through an online survey of residents and a series of workshops, feedback was gathered from the local community about the town’s strengths and weaknesses. Common key strengths included the beach, the Broads National Park, theatres, open spaces and future opportunities around the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and clean energy, however a number of challenges were also identified. These included traffic congestion, poor infrastructure and housing stock. Behavioural challenges, such as a lack of pride, a culture of disappointment, a poor reputation, fear of change and a lack of a joined-up approach, were also raised.

To tackle these challenges and help the town to thrive, East Suffolk Council and its partners created the Lowestoft Place Board, which includes key stakeholders to create a town vision, an Ambassadors Programme and to develop a brand for the promotion of the town.

To do this, it was important to understand what makes Lowestoft special, competitive and different to other places and to bring this together in a new ‘story’ that every organisation and individual across the area can share and be part of.

The story will ensure that Lowestoft plays to its strengths and grasps opportunities as they arise. The real strength will come from every organisation playing their part in bringing the story to life, so that those living in Lowestoft, as well as everywhere else, start to see and hear a more confident and consistent message about what makes the town special.

The story needed to identify the assets and strengths that are fundamental to defining what people in Lowestoft are all about; what makes the place and its people special and what makes it different.  The story is split into two key themes: harnessing and celebrating the energy of the sea and exploring the ‘eastscape’. These were identified because elements of them have previously helped shaped the place and will certainly be central to its future. These themes sit alongside a statement that reflects the overall aspiration – ‘Lowestoft: the leading light’.

The Place Board and Ambassador programme will help to raise the profile and promote all of the positive things happening in Lowestoft. Ambassadors - those who have any interest in the town from the private, public and voluntary sector - will help 'sell' Lowestoft and cascade the story to their networks, challenging outdated perceptions and creating a more vibrant and optimistic narrative.

A promotional toolkit, including photography, copy, a strong visual identity and a storybook will be made available to the ambassadors to help tell the story. Ambassador events and a branding masterclass will be available to demonstrate how the place branding toolkit can be used by the private and public sector.

Watch the launch of the story of Lowestoft

View the Lowestoft Story

Town Investment Plan

The Place Board also created a Town Investment Plan, which sets out Lowestoft’s ambitions, opportunities and challenges over the next ten years.

In 2019, Lowestoft was chosen as one of 100 UK towns to benefit from the Government's £3.6 billion Towns Fund. Each town was invited to develop a proposal for a Towns Deal, with up to £25 million available to bid for.

In November 2020, Lowestoft’s Town Investment Plan was submitted to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government as part of a £24.9m application to the Towns Fund.

As part of the Budget announcement on 3 March, it was confirmed that the funding bid was successful, with the full £24.9million agreed.

Read the Town Investment Plan

Town Centre Masterplan

To further support regeneration in the town, a Town Centre Masterplan has been created. It is East Suffolk Council’s response to the challenges the town centre faces and provides a clear plan and direction to create a prosperous town centre whether as a place in which to live, work or have fun.

The Masterplan provides the blueprint for change over the next 10-15 years but also incorporates more short-term plans which will help bring activity, jobs and business to the town centre.

Led by East Suffolk Council in partnership with Lowestoft Town Council, Lowestoft Vision, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, the Masterplan considers ways to re-purpose and guide future development in the town centre and secure inward investment to revitalise the heart of Lowestoft.

View the interactive Town Centre Masterplan