Felixstowe: Spa Pavilion revival moves a step closer

The Spa Pavilion at Felixstowe

The Spa Pavilion at Felixstowe - Credit: Archant

A seafront theatre looks set to be given a new lease of life after the proposed new owner confirmed their intention to relaunch the venue.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has announced that its search to find a new owner for Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion remains on track, following news earlier this year that it had selected a preferred bidder to revive the theatre.

In May, the Council revealed that, following an extensive marketing campaign, it had selected a preferred bidder to possibly take over the premises, with plans to relaunch the venue following its closure in January 2013.

The plan was to finalise a business case with the unnamed bidder over three months, in the hope of securing the future of the venue, which was forced to close after the council agreed it could no longer afford to funding and was having to subsidise ticket sales after audience attendance fell.

The theatre, which had been managed on the council’s behalf by Openwide International since 2006, faced possible demolition if a buyer was not found.

With the three-month business case period due to expire at the end of this month, Suffolk Coastal has confirmed that the intention of the bidder is to “re-energise and relaunch” the Spa Pavilion as a theatre venue, along with a refurbished restaurant and other services.

Suffolk Coastal’s planning boss, Geoff Holdcroft said: “Although nothing has been agreed, our negotiations with the preferred bidder remain on track. The work we have done with them, to date, has been very positive and promising.

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“We are now at the stage where we intend to continue to work with the preferred bidder, in confidence, to enter into detailed negotiations and to develop a binding legal contract.

“This is definitely a very positive step forward and I am optimistic that the Spa Pavilion can be reopened. Hopefully, we can now work with the preferred bidder to find a way forward to retain a revitalised Spa Pavilion, in the heart of Felixstowe.”

Suffolk Coastal is not revealing the identity of the preferred bidder at this stage, as no contract has been signed.

If an agreement is reached, a legal contract relating to the future of the venue is expected to be completed by November 2014, to allow for completion of some improvement works ahead of a possible spring 2015 reopening.

The council is now entering detailed negotiations, which are likely to last some months.

Graham Newman, mayor of Felixstowe, said: “The people of Felixstowe want to see something happen to the venue, particularly if it means restoring the auditorium for stage performances, so anything that indicates a move in that direction is encouraging.

“From my [Suffolk County Council] campaigning last May, it was very much still on people’s lips. Whatever the practicalities, they want to see some sort of restoration.”