BY MATT BUNN
Friday, March 1, 2013
HOPES of saving the Spa Pavilion were dealt a fresh blow last night as two formal bids to take over the running of the venue were rejected – and the threat of demolition has not been ruled out.
Bosses at Suffolk Coastal District Council said the proposals submitted could not be taken seriously because they would have meant the council would have been responsible for all repairs and maintenance.
The hunt to find an operator for the venue will now continue after the company charged with marketing the Spa, Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) informed the interested groups of the decision.
Geoff Holdcroft, the council’s cabinet member for economic development and leisure, admitted demolishing the theatre and replacing it entirely is looking increasingly likely.
He said: “The cost of modernising the existing theatre always meant it was possible that a serious bidder would approach us with a scheme that might see the demolition of the building and something new being put in its place, and I suspect this is more likely to be what is finally proposed.
“We still hope that there can be a future for the Spa and we would love to hear from all those with fully costed and sustainable proposals that would add to the unique tourism and cultural offer available in Felixstowe.”
The Spa’s future was first plunged into doubt in December 2011 after an options appraisal on the building suggested it would cost £8million to bring it up to scratch.
Council leaders at the time also admitted they could not afford the £250,000 annual subsidy on the building.
Mr Holdcroft added: “Sadly both these bids were based on the premise that the council would be the landlord of the Spa and so retain responsibility for all repairs and maintenance of the building.
“The financial risks for the council of both sets of proposals and the relative short-term nature of them were clear to JLL and to ourselves and we had sadly had no option but to agree with the expert advice and reject them.”
It was revealed earlier this week that two organisations had submitted plans to take on the Spa with the possibility of two others also submitting proposals.
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