Concern over possible closure of hotels

TWO of Felixstowe's largest hotels are today facing an uncertain future - and their loss would be a major blow to the town's tourist trade.

TWO of Felixstowe's largest hotels are today facing an uncertain future - and their loss would be a major blow to the town's tourist trade.

Meanwhile, another large former hotel on the seafront will definitely not be re-opening, and could be demolished to make way for new shop, restaurant and flats.

The seaside town has lost dozens of bed spaces in recent years with the closure of guest houses and small hotels, and the latest changes come at a time when major efforts are underway to regenerate the resort.

Plans to demolish the Ordnance Hotel in Undercliff Road West and replace it with retirement apartments have been rejected for the time being. The loss of the hotel is not opposed and fresh proposals are likely to be submitted.

Now plans have been put forward to close the 19-bedroom Waverley Hotel in Wolsey Gardens. Its ground floor would be converted into shops, the other floors into 11 flats, with the 1960s extension demolished and replaced with a new block of 12 flats.

Owner Muralee Govindasamy is also planning to build seven affordable homes elsewhere in the town as part of the project, and to refurbish the Edwardian exterior of the hotel.

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Four years ago a plan was rejected to demolish the Waverley and replace it with 21 flats, partly because it was felt it was important to the tourist industry. However, trade has continued to decline.

Agents for Mr Govindasamy said: “It is a fact that our client has invested heavily in the redevelopment of the Waverley over the last seven years and has brought the hotel up to a high standard.

“Despite this investment occupancy in the hotel has continued to fall to the point where it is now considered to be financially unviable as a hotel.”

Even though the town council says the Waverley is still vital to the regeneration of the resort, Suffolk Coastal is recommending the closure project for approval on April 2.

Meanwhile, Thornlane Homes Ltd has applied to use the site of the old North Sea Hotel in Sea Road as a shop and restaurant with two holiday lets and 15 flats.

The building has been closed for several years - last used as Lix nightclub - and has been a derelict eyesore on the seafront.

Should the Ordnance and Waverley be closed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Panel:

FELIXSTOWE faces a dilemma as it strives to attract holidaymakers in the 21st century.

Increasing numbers of people - especially the retired - are enjoying short breaks away and there is a huge market to be tapped.

Visitors though expect high standards, and some of Felixstowe's older hotels are just not able to provide what is wanted.

Places like the Waverley struggle to meet expectations and are difficult to modernise.

Andy Wright, head of community and economic services at Suffolk Coastal, said what Felixstowe needed was a good, modern hotel.

“There is a need for more bed spaces in Felixstowe and whilst we support the principle of retaining existing bed spaces and promoting new ones, it has to be based on the realistic prospect of filling them,” he said.

“Contemporary holidaymakers expect a fairly high standard of construction and amenities in a hotel and this would be better sought in a new, modern hotel.”

There had been high hopes of a Travelodge at the old Routemaster motel and office complex just outside the port but this deal fell through last year. The company is still looking for a suitable site.

A �28 million new hotel has also been put forward as an ambition for the Convalescent Hill car park site on the seafront as part of regeneration of the resort, but it is unclear where funding would come from for such a project and who would build it.

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