Felixstowe: Burger queen Sam’s in Landguard limbo

Come rain or shine, ship spotters have always been able to find a hot drink and a bite to eat at Landguard.

But today, Samantha Dorling’s 11-year tenure at the Crows Nest, a burger van located at the ship viewing area, is looking more and more uncertain.

As plans take shape for the new Landguard visitor centre, which will incorporate a restaurant with views out to sea, Mrs Dorling, 44, fears she will be evicted from her beloved site.

But until plans are confirmed her future is up in the air. “I wish they would tell me because I need to get on with my life,” she said.

“You have got to remember that between now and Easter the weather down here is pretty rough and, to be honest, the reason I stand here all winter is to keep the customers happy.

“I don’t want to be here all winter just to be kicked out in April.

“I have been here for 11 years and I have built this business up and everyone knows us here.

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“I just really want to know – it’s all very unsettling.”

Mrs Dorling, who lives in Great Bentley near Clacton, first knew about the plans in 2006 and set up a book for her customers to sign to say how much they wanted the Crows Nest to stay.

Since then hundreds of people have signed the book and she believes it is an example of how loved the business is and also how close all her customers are.

She said: “People are mortified that they are just going to get rid of us.

“We are like a family here and I just hope whoever gets the cafe understands the people.”

The new visitor attraction at Landguard, paid for by the Port of Felixstowe, will include a 58-seater restaurant with panoramic views over the harbour. It is hoped this could in place by next summer.

Suffolk Coastal District Council, who are dealing with the planning permission, have refuted Mrs Dorling’s claims that she has not been informed of what is happening at Landguard.

A council spokesman said: “The planning application has now been submitted to the council and a decision on it is likely in the next few weeks.

“If it is approved, then a timescale for developing the new facilities will be drawn up and finalised.

“The council has been keeping the owner of the Crows Nest, who has a licence, as fully informed as possible of what is being planned.”

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under threat: Samantha Dorling is fighting to keep her mobile burger van in the spot it has occupied for 11 years at the popular ship viewing point. But she fears that it may have to make way for the proposed Landguard Visitors centre, above