A GLOBAL search for landscape and architectural designers with big ideas has been launched - as multi-million pound plans to transform a unique beauty spot in a North West town gather pace.

Working with Copeland Borough Council, the Millom Town Deal Board secured an offer of £20.6 million from the Government's £3.6 billion Towns Fund initiative earlier this year for projects it identified as local priorities.

The money has been allocated to four projects that required support of Government that will help ensure the area thrives now and for future generations.

Today, a competition has been launched to find a design partner for one of these projects - The Iron Line - which aims to sensitively transform the coastal lagoon and sea wall into an inspirational and fully inclusive, nationally significant visitor attraction.

The five proposals in the competition that best meet the criteria after the closing date of October 20 will be shortlisted to go through to the second round. These design concepts will be showcased in a local exhibition so that stakeholders and members of the public can feed into the process.

Robert Morris-Eyton, chair of the Millom Town Deal Board, described the competition as a pivotal moment in the life of the project.

He said: “The Iron Line is an ambitious scheme that sets out the potential for this route to become one of the most unique and beautiful visitor attractions in the region.

“What we want is for the competition to bring forward teams with a vision for The Iron Line and how it could become an area that marries together the important and delicate ecology and heritage of the area with art and inclusivity.

“What’s especially exciting is that the design will be a collaborative process with residents and stakeholders across the area who will be able to help shape the ideas that come forward. This is something we’re very much looking forward to.”

The Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie, said: "The package of projects that make up Millom’s Town Deal will work together to secure a wide range of benefits for residents and businesses, not least through improved health and wellbeing outcomes for our communities and a prosperous, resilient economy.

“The launch of this competition is a big step forward for The Iron Line, and I look forward to other projects gaining shape.”