Crunch night for controversial scheme

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to build a multi-million pound homes and tourist attraction face the crunch tonight (WED) when they are put under the microscope after a complaint about the project.

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to build a multi-million pound homes and tourist attraction face the crunch tonight (WED) when they are put under the microscope after a complaint about the project.

The scheme has been "called in" by councillors unhappy at the massive amount of housing proposed for the 17-acre site at Felixstowe compared with the land devoted to leisure.

It is only the second time an issue has been "called in" at Suffolk Coastal council, under the authority's new rules and procedures.

Cabinet members have decided to press ahead with the development of the south seafront in partnership with Bloor Homes to regenerate the resort.

The scheme – which is currently being amended slightly after a public consultation exercise – features a minimum of 175 homes, new play areas, a timber galleon, gardens, car parks, café, and an ampitheatre.

But councillors who have "called in" the decision say "the housing development is too great and limits the potential leisure use of the area and that the provision of social housing is not enough".

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Today Felixstowe councillor Chris Slemmings welcomed the "calling in" of the scheme for scrutiny.

"It is the biggest project the council has undertaken for many years and if any issue was going to be called in it is right it should be this one so that everyone can see in public that the proper procedures have been followed," he said.

"There have been rumours, half truths and innuendoes, and I think this examination will lay a lot of ghosts to rest. It is right that it should be tested in this way and I think it will raise public confidence in what is happening."

The issue will looked at tonight by the policy development and review committee, which will scrutinise the way in which the plans have been drawn up and look at whether procedures have been followed correctly and fairly.

Residents are fighting the scheme because they do not feel it will benefit the low-lying area between Orford Road and Manor Terrace and are concerned about flooding and the impact on their homes. They are drawing alternative plans.

Some have expressed concern at the amount of housing. With prices forecast to keep rising, the 175 properties could easily sell for an average of £200,000 – reaping £35 million for the developers.

If they cost £10m to build plus £4m for the public leisure facilities, the developers would still walk away with a handsome profit, a profit too large for the loss of so much public land for so little in return – leisure facilities which will do little to regenerate the town and attract people to visit.

Suffolk Coastal has asked Bloor Homes to rethink certain aspects of the scheme, especially the effect on sea views in Manor Terrace, the need for more car parking, and the type of restaurant-pub to replace the Herman de Stern.

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