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Council tight-lipped on seafront scheme

PUBLISHED: 03:10 24 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:57 02 March 2010

SECRECY warnings have today been slapped on new multi-million pound proposals for Felixstowe's controversial south seafront – with councillors told they could be suspended or disqualified if they divulge details.

SECRECY warnings have today been slapped on new multi-million pound proposals for Felixstowe's controversial south seafront – with councillors told they could be suspended or disqualified if they divulge details.

Suffolk Coastal is determined no details of the revised scheme for the 17-acre site will be leaked to the public – and it will announce the plans when it is ready.

The authority was left severely embarrassed a year ago when its own planners rejected a proposed £20 million development of the land because the scheme was against the council's own policies.

Now its partners in the project, Bloor Homes, have revised the scheme and details of their new ideas will be shown to councillors on June 29.

The public and the press will be excluded when the development is discussed.

Councillor Peter Bellfield, currently leading the project, said the matter would be discussed in private because two reports to be presented to councillors contained details of financial arrangements with Bloor Homes and also of land prices and were deemed confidential.

Disclosure of this information could prejudice the council's negotiating position.

Mr Bellfield said part of the reports may remain confidential, with limited information contained in minutes available to the public.

Councillors have been told divulging the contents of the report could put them in breach of the members' code of conduct and lead to an investigation by the Standards Board for England.

Mr Bellfield said: "A finding of breach of the code would make a member liable to censure, suspension or disqualification."

The new plans feature 25 per cent less homes than the previous scheme – with only 157 homes compared with 209 before.

This is likely to mean less cash for community facilities. In the previous deal, taxpayers were receiving just £2.3 million for the six acres for homes with the cash to be used for gardens, an amphitheatre, restaurant, café, a wooden galleon and play areas.

The new deal could mean £572,000 less for community facilities. Under the terms of the last deal, Suffolk Coastal was receiving £11,000 per house – less than £400,000 per acre – for the best sea views in Felixstowe.

The houses were expected to sell for an average of £170,000 to £200,000 and even with building costs were expected to make the developers many millions.

The deal did feature a profit-sharing scheme which it was hoped would pay for the refurbishment and conversion to an art gallery of the site's Martello Tower.

Mr Bellfield said if the task group and cabinet approved the new plan, planning applications would be submitted and there would be public consultation.


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