December 9 2013 Latest news:
BY RICHARD CORNWELL, Felixstowe editor
Saturday, January 12, 2013
IF the Spa Pavilion re-opens, it could be for a mixture of uses – and a theatre may not be among them.
The venue, which is being boarded up today , could even be used partly for holiday accommodation in a revamp of the building.
Councillors have indicated they will be prepared to listen to a range of ideas, including turning it into a new and completely different attraction, and even demolition and replacement with a new theatre or something else.
As yet no offers have been received and no firm ideas are on the table.
Harry Hawksby, director Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, who is handling the sale of the venue, said the setting made the property a unique investment opportunity which may suit a range of alternative redevelopment uses, subject to planning permission.
“The Spa Pavilion is a well-established venue which we believe offers a number of avenues to create opportunities which add value under the direct control of a commercial operator,” he said.
“Alternatively, the council has indicated that it would be particularly supportive of proposed uses to that enhance the tourist and cultural facilities on offer in Felixstowe, subject to the appropriate statutory consents.”
Suffolk Coastal has already vetoed the advice of its consultants – to draw up a 20-year plan for the Spa and invest £3m renovating public areas, seeking alternative funding, and improving its profile to attract more users.
Bonnar Keenlyside who undertook an appraisal of the theatre are convinced its problems cannot be overcome by simply a new operator taking over and say the venue is outdated, hidden away, not well publicised, and not loved by residents.
They looked at:
■ Turning it into a 1,200 seat theatre to attract better shows, which would cost £8m to £10m;
■ Keeping the current seating but remodelling the public areas, £2m to £3m;
■ Reducing it to 500 seats, £5m;
■ Building a new theatre, anywhere between £7m and £15m;
■ Finding a private partner to run the venue – extremely unlikely in the current climate;
■ Developing the site for homes, which planners may consider favourably.
“Taking the overall findings into account there is no obvious solution that will guarantee success. Each option carries some financial and operational risk,” said Bonnar Keenlyside.
■ Give us your views on what should happen to the Spa Pavilion – comment below this story.