Flower power could keep trade alive

FELIXSTOWE is hoping to use flower power to keep its tourist trade alive, and today announced a £1 million overhaul of its famous seafront gardens.The town has long been known as The Garden Resort of East Anglia and has won many floral competition awards in recent years.

By Richard Cornwell

FELIXSTOWE is hoping to use flower power to keep its tourist trade alive, and today announced a £1 million overhaul of its famous seafront gardens.

The town has long been known as The Garden Resort of East Anglia and has won many floral competition awards in recent years.

Last year – despite winning a silver award in Britain in Bloom – there was enormous criticism of the Spa Grdens, which were left litter-strewn and weed infested during the Golden Jubilee celebrations.


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Now it is planning to restore its 7.5 acres of seafront gardens to their former glory and is set to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a massive grant.

The announcement by Suffolk Coastal comes at a time when the future of the town as a resort is the centre of debate.

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The council says if it did not refurbish the gardens, it would still need to spend £270,000 soon on demolishing and rebuilding the Long Shelter, currently fenced off and unsafe, and the old Pump House, plus other urgent work.

But the HLF will give a 90 per cent grant for a major scheme, which means a £950,000 refurbishment of all the gardens would work out a lot cheaper with taxpayers only having to find around £95,000 of the total cost.

The gardens stretch from the Red Cross Centre at Bath Tap to Charles Manning's Amusement Park and were set down in the 19th century.

Two areas – the Spa Gardens and Town Hall Gardens – were recently judged by English Heritage to be of sufficient historical importance that they have been placed in the National Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

It is expected the refurbishment scheme – which would get underway in 2006 – would not only re-create the gardens as they were in Edwardian times but improve them, too, for today's visitors.

In a report to the council's cabinet, director of planning and leisure Jeremy Schofield says the gardens make a "significant contribution" to tourism as well as the quality of life for the residents.

There is strong support for refurbishment and the gardens are well-used by the public. Face-to-face interviews and a postal questionnaire of traders indicated 98pc felt the gardens were important or very important to the resort.

The cabinet meeting on March 18 is asked to agree to jointly fund with the HLF a £10,000 project planning report in order to prepare the lottery bid.

n What do you think? Will a rejuvenated Spa Gardens bring back the visitors to Felixstowe? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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