Background: Port and coastal towns and cities often seem unable to realise the potential benefits of their waterside location. Possible reasons include a poor-quality built environment, derelict industrial and other legacy sites, a decline in traditional tourism, poor connectivity to the water, rising sea levels and coastal erosion. These issues are common around the UK, transcending simple north/south or east/west divisions.

iPACT – the infrastructure for Port cities And Coastal Towns network– aims to identify people-focused, infrastructure-based solutions to the complex problem of improving social well-being and prosperity in coastal communities through resilient and sustainable regeneration. 

Research questions will be based around themes of

  • Connectivity with the coast
  • Inclusive infrastructure
  • Maintaining and enhancing resilience
  • Coastal region transport
  • Nature-inspired, human scale engineering

These themes were explored with project partners Southampton City Council, Lancaster City Council, Eden North and Coastal Partnership East (North Norfolk, Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District and Great Yarmouth Borough Councils). Southampton, North Norfolk and Morecambe encapsulate the issues faced by port cities and coastal towns, including the current and future challenges of a working port, declining seaside resorts and historic communities with an ageing population facing coastal erosion and sea-level rise.  

Stage 1: A series of WeValue community-based consultations have now been carried out to elucidate key issues, particularly as felt by under-represented groups and less-heard voices.

During Stage 2, a series of sandpits were held, one in each case study location: Morecambe, Norfolk & Southampton, open to the iPACT network of researchers. The aim of these was to develop collaborative, infrastructure-related Pilot Study Line of Sight to explore and assess potential solutions aligned with community needs. We have funding for 5-10 of these Pilot Study feasibility projects at £50-100k each.  

Stage 2 funding sandpits: Our three funding sandpits were held in Morecambe on 12-13 December 2022, in Norfolk on 10-11 January 2023 and in Southampton on 20-21 March 2023. Each funding sandpit was held over two days. They brought together researchers and research users and beneficiaries from the iPACT network to develop potential solutions. 


Project ideas and discussion, Norfolk

To join the iPACT network: please visit