Campaigners given inspection go-ahead

CAMPAIGNERS trying to save a fire-ravaged Felixstowe landmark have been given permission to make a close-up inspection of the property.Despite calls for the eyesore ruin of the Herman de Stern to be demolished, Suffolk Preservation Society believes it may be possible to restore the century-old former convalescent home and theatre.

CAMPAIGNERS trying to save a fire-ravaged Felixstowe landmark have been given permission to make a close-up inspection of the property.

Despite calls for the eyesore ruin of the Herman de Stern to be demolished, Suffolk Preservation Society believes it may be possible to restore the century-old former convalescent home and theatre.

It is supporting residents who are unhappy with plans to raze the building and use its site and 17 acres of seafront land alongside for homes and a maritime park.

The society has now been granted permission to enter the grounds in Sea Road - although not the building itself - so it can get a better idea of how the building and site could be used.

SPS director, Richard Ward said: “The society is putting its money where its mouth is and instructed architects to draw up a far more sustainable and attractive plan than the one currently on offer.

“We believe in constructive engagement. However, we have been unable to progress with this as we have not been able to get close enough to the Herman De Stern building to assess its real structural condition.

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“Now the council has agreed to treat us as an equal, we hope to work with them by producing our alternative and we believe better proposals for the south seafront as soon as possible.

“As both the landowner and the planning authority, the council has an especial duty to ensure that this development takes full account of the views of local people and is a long-term enhancement to the town. What is needed now is a more mature debate about this whole site.”

The society has instructed architects The Landscape Partnership to draw up a design that balances housing with a community spaces and the successful and sympathetic use of both the Herman De Stern building and Martello Tower.

Council leader Ray Herring feels the burnt-out eyesore should be demolished but intervention of the SPS had left the redevelopment process bogged down in a legal quagmire.

“The SPS has threatened a judicial review of the planning decision for the leisure and housing scheme, and warned that it could take out an injunction if the council demolished the Herman De Stern building,” he said.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

www.suffolksociety.org.uk

Do you think it's time to demolish 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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