Demolition nears for historic building

DEMOLITION of a fire-ravaged eyesore on Felixstowe seafront will take place this month, it was confirmed today.

DEMOLITION of a fire-ravaged eyesore on Felixstowe seafront will take place this month, it was confirmed today.

Contractors Erith Group will be paid £129,500 to bulldoze the Herman de Stern centre, the first move in a £25 million-plus project to regenerate the 17-acre site behind the Edwardian building.

Council officials have stressed the demolition is not a simple task. Part of the work will see the contractors having to remove asbestos from the site.

The building, which was originally a convalescent home when it opened in 1902 but which has also served as a community centre and theatre, has been fenced off since a group of children set light to it more than a year ago.

A Suffolk Coastal District Council spokesman said: “The work is scheduled for October 23 and we would like to stick to that target as we recognise the need to get rid of what has become an ugly eyesore and the impending threat of winter weather would make it difficult to carry out the work.

“Five tenders were sought for this rather difficult project and the winning bid was by far the lowest.

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“This is not a simple demolition because of the need to deal with all the asbestos on the site, which has become a much greater, and therefore costlier, problem because of the damage caused by the fire.

“The bricks will all have to be decontaminated because of the asbestos and the contractor plans to then use them as recycled infill material on the site.”

The building was insured for £940,000 but the council is refusing to say how much of a pay-out it is receiving, although it is only a small fraction of that sum.

The spokesman said: “The amount paid by the insurance company will cover the costs of the demolition over and above what it would have cost to have demolished the building prior to the fire. It is planned that the remaining amount will be paid by Bloors.”

No contract has yet been signed with Bloors, the council's development partners, to develop the south seafront site.

Permission has been given for 158 homes, a maritime park, café, play areas, car parks, events arena and refurbishment of the Martello Tower as an arts centre.

Councillor Mike Ninnmey, who has fought to save the Herman de Stern, said: “I think it is very sad that we are going to lose such an outstanding building which could have had a great community use.

“I cannot understand the urgency to demolish it because nothing can be built on the land until we have new sea defences.”

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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