The grants are the first to be made as part of Sea Change, a new funding programme which aims to kick start wider economic regeneration in coastal areas through specific investment in culture and heritage.
The three year programme will give £45 million to coastal resorts and is being led by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.
The three major grants in the first year will be awarded to resorts around the coast. Blackpool, Dover and Torbay were identified by CABE in partnership with the Regional Development Agencies as priority areas for regeneration with projects in development.
Local authorities will put forward projects to CABE along with their business and project management plans.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said: "English seaside towns have seen some real improvements in recent years. T
"They have worked hard to develop alternative attractions such as conferences, invested in new coastal defences and promenades. But there is more we can do to help our seaside towns prosper, so I am especially pleased that people in Blackpool, Dover and Torbay are set to benefit from investment of up to £4 million each. I think the English seaside is set for a renaissance."