Coastal Communities coastal definition, the Hoe, seafront, waves, Plymouth sound
Based in one of Britain’s major coastal cities, the Centre for Coastal Communities brings together one of the few critical masses of academic researchers in any UK university, who have a proven track record on coastal communities and strong collaborative links with public, private and third sectors. Working with our partners, we are uniquely placed to co-ordinate problem identification and co-create solutions, committing to an area of research that traditionally has seen limited investigation of the problems.
Unemployment, low incomes, seasonal jobs, low educational attainment, poor social mobility, high rates of anti-depressant and opioid prescribing, and poor health outcomes mean coastal communities are facing a high burden of health challenges. The ‘levelling up' of Britain’s periphery to create dynamic, thriving coastal communities is difficult to achieve.

Our mission:

To advance new approaches and transform thinking to address 21st-century challenges facing coastal communities

South-West Coastal Local Policy Innovation Partnership (SWC LPIP)

Working in partnership across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, this project will develop a comprehensive understanding of the problems Southwest coastal communities are facing, and collaboratively co-design the best solutions to these challenges.   
The project aims to:
  • Better understand the key economic, community and environmental problems that affect our communities
  • Work together with communities to design solutions (and recognise good practice that is struggling for recognition?)
  • Support the solutions to be adopted into policy making.
Aerial view of Plymouth Sound

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Our webinar series

Reimagining Britain’s ‘left behind’ coastal communities

Held on 4 May 2023
Economic decline in many of Britain’s coastal communities have been associated with political and cultural dislocation. This webinar considered the extent to which creative place-making can advance the levelling up agenda, notably by addressing the socio-economic disparities that many of Britain’s coastal communities are experiencing. 
Webinar hosts, Professor Sheela Agarwal and Rupert Lorraine, were joined by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Parliamentary Under Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport), Peter Gingold (Director of the Time and Tide Bell organisation), Emma Wilcox (Director of Creative Estuary) and Professor Robert Brown for this thought-provoking event.  

Levelling Up: what about coastal communities?

In order to truly 'level up' Britain, it is crucial to have a better understanding of the problems and challenges those on the periphery face so that potential solutions can be effectively deployed to create dynamic, thriving coastal communities.   
Five thought-provoking questions posed by Professor Sheela Agarwal and Professor Sheena Asthana, were discussed with a prestigious panel of UK Government experts during a roundtable discussion held as part of the Research Festival 2022. The recordings of this event are shown below.
Plymouth Pioneers.  Professor Sheena Asthana

Promoting policy to end coastal poverty

The Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research brings together world-leading research from across the University to improve the health and care of the South West and beyond. Professor Sheena Asthana, the Institute's director, is a leading advocate for improved distribution of funds to ensure fairer access to healthcare for all, focusing her attention on communities disproportionately lacking in support.
"We need to make a better clarification between addressing health inequalities and promoting equal access to equal need; making sure that the people who need the healthcare access are able to get it, and it’s not dependent on a postcode lottery." – Professor Sheena Asthana 

Collaborating nationally – the Coastal ARC Group

A number of NIHR funded Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) have been working together to collaborate on co-developing and evaluating public health initiatives to improve health and wellbeing and address health inequalities within depressed coastal populations and areas. These represent peripheral areas in the North West, North East, East, South East and South West of England. All of the participating ARCs work well with their Local Authorities and other key partners. This grouping also provides opportunities to scale up research initiatives to support generalisability.
For more information about the Coastal ARC group, please contact Professor Mark Gabbay:
Landscape view of the scenic tourist town of Instow in north Devon. Viewed from further down the Torridge estuary, at high tide. shutterstock