Battle cry by families

FAMILIES are today gearing up for battle, to try to stop a £15 million-plus tourism and housing project being built opposite their homes.Residents in Manor Terrace and surrounding area have clubbed together to hire a solicitor to fight their case – and want the scheme "called in" by Whitehall so that Suffolk Coastal cannot make the decision on its plans.

By Richard Cornwell

FAMILIES are today gearing up for battle, to try to stop a £15 million-plus tourism and housing project being built opposite their homes.

Residents in Manor Terrace and surrounding area have clubbed together to hire a solicitor to fight their case - and want the scheme "called in" by Whitehall so that Suffolk Coastal cannot make the decision on its plans.

They claim the land is a floodplain and parts of it act as a vital soakaway when the sea overtops the defences.

Householders fear development will increase the risk of flooding of their homes.

Campaigner Edwina Rust said: "The battle now begins. While we have known for sometime what the scheme was likely to feature, we have been waiting for the planning application before we could take any real action.

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"Our main concern is the effect on the soakaway, but also the impact this modern housing will have on the residents who are already here.

"I think it is absolutely disgusting that no scale model of the area has been produced - every scheme you see abroad seems to feature one - to give people a real idea of the height and position of these properties."

People in the area wanted the 17-acre site left open as grassland for events, informal play activities and picnics.

Doreen Rayner, chairman of the West End (Felixstowe) Residents' Association, said: "My biggest concern is whether or not this is the final plan. If it changes as it moves through the planning process we will be consulted on changes?"

Suffolk Coastal and development partner Bloor Homes have drawn up a scheme which will feature £2.3m worth of leisure attractions, funded by a £14m housing project to provide 209 houses and flats.

The main attractions will be a refurbished Martello Tower art gallery, a classic Greek semi-circular ampitheatre for open-air concerts, local bands and street entertainers, plus car parks, restaurant, café, gardens, wooden galleon, and traditional and unusual play areas, all on a beach and sea theme.

Andy Smith, cabinet member responsible for the project, said the south seafront scheme was "excellent news" for Felixstowe and local views had been taken into account in the design.

The scheme was vital to the long-term future of Felixstowe as a resort, and a a sound deal for the district.

"It is now all set to provide a range of family-friendly attractions that I think will prove a hit with people of all ages," he said.

"From the start, this council has wanted to clear up a prominent eyesore and provide some attractive features that can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

"This is not, nor was it ever meant to be, a grandiose over-the-top leisure park. Suffolk Coastal wanted to ensure that what was on offer was at a scale that would attract more people but in numbers that the town could cope with, and with no impact on council tax bills."

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What do you think of the project - should Suffolk Coastal council be allowed to decide its own scheme? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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