October 21 2014 Latest news:
By Matthew Tacket
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
AS a youngster I went to many events at the Spa Pavilion – but it’s probably a decade since I last went to anything there and by then it already struck me as well past its sell-by date.
While I can understand the determination of those who have tried to save it and find a new operator prepared to spend millions on bringing the building into the 21st century, we have to face the fact it has now closed and look to the future.
And as workers start boarding up the building, my message is simple – send in the bulldozers!
What is going to happen to the site as things stand? The building is going to be left empty and festering for years as well-meaning groups wring their hands and talk about re-opening it – talk that is wholly unrealistic.
It would cost millions to turn the Spa into a modern venue. We are in a recession and those millions are not available.
The voters of Suffolk Coastal have shown time and again that they’re more keen on paying low council tax bills than they are on subsidising a seaside theatre whose audience has largely disappeared.
If the building is left empty it will become the haunt of drug users, and will frankly become a blight on the Seafront Gardens which are going to get a multi-million revamp thanks to the lottery.
My solution is simple – clear the site and replace the grotty old Spa Pavilion with something that might actually enhance the area.
Something like the new Aurora restaurant on the Orwell Quay at Ipswich Waterfront.
What is needed in the middle of the attractive gardens is a stunning cafe/restaurant with room for outside tables in the spring and summer and possibly an outdoor performance area.
That would be much cheaper than trying to squeeze more out of the tired old Spa – and would be far more attractive to visitors to the resort.
I know people in Felixstowe would like to see a 300-seat theatre created somewhere, and that would be a great long-term ambition somewhere in the town.
But it’s not realistic at the Spa in near future – and that site is far too important to be left derelict for years.