Bid to save Felixstowe building

A CAMPAIGN has been launched today to save one of Felixstowe's best-loved buildings from the bulldozers – and turn it in to a small theatre.A growing group of individuals and business owners has banded together with an interest in restoring the former convalescent home, the Herman de Stern on the seafront, to create a community project.

A CAMPAIGN has been launched today to save one of Felixstowe's best-loved buildings from the bulldozers – and turn it in to a small theatre.

A growing group of individuals and business owners has banded together with an interest in restoring the former convalescent home, the Herman de Stern on the seafront, to create a community project.

Businessman Trevor Lockwood, who is leading the campaign group, said: "Our plan is to create a small theatre, a mixture of meeting and rehearsal rooms and a cafeteria and shop.

"I'd like to hear from any group, indeed anyone, who may be interested in using such a social centre.

"We want the town to have modern facilities that can be hired at a reasonable price and know that such a centre will generate a sense of community.

"A developer wants to knock down this building, and build housing on the site. A planning inquiry will soon be held, so it is now urgent that we measure support for our alternative scheme which meets the objectives of the local plan.

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"If the developer wins the appeal this building and the surrounding land will be lost to the town, and a valuable tourist resource will be lost."

Suffolk Coastal council owns the Herman de Stern, which was donated to the town at the turn of the last century, but has neglected it over many years.

It has earmarked the huge run down and empty building for demolition as part of the development of the 17-acre south seafront. It says it is not practical to refurbish it and such renovation would be uneconomical because of the £40,000 cost of removing asbestos and £500,000 cost of conversion.

Mr Lockwood, of By Design, High Road East, has been trying for four months to get hold of a feasibility study commissioned by the council assessing the possibility of converting the building into a theatre – and now hopes the Freedom of Information Act will provide access.

The council is expecting revised plans for the south seafront in the next few weeks.

n Anyone who would like to be involved in the Herman de Stern campaign should contact Trevor Lockwood on tel/fax 01394 273388.

n What do you think should happen to the Herman de Stern? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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