From grandeur to rubble

GOING…going…gone.From an outstanding Edwardian building to a pile of rubble. Today, a heap of red bricks is all that is left of a Felixstowe landmark which gave a century of service to the resort and which many believed could have done for years to come.

GOING…going…gone.

From an outstanding Edwardian building to a pile of rubble. Today, a heap of red bricks is all that is left of a Felixstowe landmark which gave a century of service to the resort and which many believed could have done for years to come.

Campaigners had dreamed of transforming the Herman de Stern into a multi-million pound theatre and arts centre, which the town desperately needs, but Suffolk Coastal District Council was against it.

When young vandals set light to it 16 months ago, causing huge damage to the former convalescent home, theatre, gym and community centre, the dream died and there was only one option left.

Now demolition of the property at the end of Sea Road is complete and developers mark the first stage of the major redevelopment of its seafront site and the 17 acres which stand behind it.

Contractors Erith Group are being paid £129,500 to bulldoze the building and tidy the land.

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A Suffolk Coastal spokesman said workers would probably be at the site for a while yet as the rubble needed to be removed, the land levelled and some landscaping work carried out. Then the hoardings would be removed.

They added that the project has taken longer than expected.

He said: “Over the last month, the contractors have been concentrating on removing the asbestos which is quite an involved job, and has taken longer than hoped because of the recent high winds and the freezing conditions before Christmas.”

The Herman de Stern stood on the edge of the south seafront and its site was needed to provide a “gateway” into the site, which will be regenerated with a £25million-plus project featuring 158 homes, a maritime park, café, play areas, car parks and an events arena.

The Martello Tower in the centre of the site will be refurbished and turned into an arts centre. Consultants are currently looking at a range of potential ideas for the Napoleonic fort.

The whole project is dependent on the Government giving grant aid for new sea defences to protect the area.

WEBLINK:

www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

Will you be glad to see the Herman de Stern go? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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