August 20 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
A Suffolk seaside theatre could be open within a year, with a potential new operator declaring proposals to relaunch the venue.
The Spa Pavilion at Felixstowe has been closed since the end of the panto run in January last year.
Faced with millions of pounds needing to be spent on refurbishment, owner Suffolk Coastal District Council decided it was no longer prepared to pay the £240,000 a year subsidy to run the theatre.
But now there is fresh hope for the future following an extensive marketing campaign, which has led to an offer from an organisation which is now the “selected preferred bidder” to possibly take over the premises.
Suffolk Coastal is not revealing the identity of the preferred bidder at this stage, as no contract has been signed.
However, the council will now be working with the bidder over the next three months to finalise the business case and agree terms.
If an agreement is reached, a legal contract relating to the future of the Spa Pavilion is expected to be completed by November 2014, to allow for completion of some improvement works ahead of a possible spring 2015 re-opening.
The council said the bidder’s aim is to “re-energise and re-launch” the Spa Pavilion as a venue, along with a refurbished restaurant and other complimentary services.
Suffolk Coastal cabinet member Geoff Holdcroft said: “Nothing has been finalised at this stage, so we don’t want to get people’s hopes up too high, but this is definitely a very positive step towards ensuring the long-term future of this iconic building.
“All through the process, I have remained cautiously optimistic that the Spa Pavilion can be reopened and now, hopefully, we can work with the preferred bidder to find a way forward to retain a revitalised Spa Pavilion, which will include a theatre and restaurant offering at the heart of Felixstowe.”
Suffolk Coastal has now entered into a three-month period of exclusive negotiations with the preferred bidder, lasting until the end of July, and hopes to be able to issue more information during the summer.