B. The Planning Context
Hampton Beach is a spectacular barrier spit with broad beaches backed by coastal marshes. Beginning over a century ago, the beach and its surroundings were developed to support a seasonal public demand to
However, many practical concessions were made during the first half of the 1900’s to enhance short-term, economic opportunities and solve immediate issues. Development began to fill every available spot of land, with few controls on the quality or mix of improvements or uses. The automobile overwhelmed the area during peak times, with increasing congestion and unsolved parking needs. Available revenue sources could not keep pace with the need to support the infrastructure and public facilities that were required.
The State of New Hampshire stepped in during the Great Depression to take over fiscal control of the beach and
The tourism market shifted, and the population using the Beach began to change. Once a choice for prolonged vacations, it increasingly became the destination for short stays and day trips. When some significant reinvestment began to occur, newcomers settled in as year-round residents, valuing the waterfront location. At the same time, significant disinvestments occurred in commercial properties, and the image of the Beach started to decline as the market for leisure activities became more competitive.
With the expiration of the original lease in 1997, the Town and related authorities are now the stewards of the developed areas of the Beach through its land use and environmental regulations, and local infrastructure. Much of the infrastructure is outdated or in poor condition, and the regulatory framework has not been consistently effective in meeting public or private sector purposes.
Within this context, there is a critical need for a coordinated vision that will link future State and Town policies and actions, and provide for both public and private sector improvements to create a more positive future.
The planning area for this study is comprised of all the land, activities, and waterfront uses in and around Hampton Beach, including both the Town and State Park areas. This area encompasses approximately 1,500 acres of land. In addition, the study has taken into account, conditions and trends in the surrounding region that have a direct impact on the uses at Hampton Beach.