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Funding to renovate fort

PUBLISHED: 19:18 09 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:43 03 March 2010

EUROPEAN funding might be available to renovate a Napoleonic fort at Felixstowe and turn it into a tourist attraction.

English Heritage has told council officials that it expects Martello Tower P to be refurbished as part of the multi-million pound south seafront scheme.

EUROPEAN funding might be available to renovate a Napoleonic fort at Felixstowe and turn it into a tourist attraction.

English Heritage has told council officials that it expects Martello Tower P to be refurbished as part of the multi-million pound south seafront scheme.

The tower sits in the centre of the 17-acre site and also has a nationally-important cold war bunker, which must also be restored and open for visitors.

Suffolk Coastal's chosen developers Bloor Homes, ready to build 175 homes for profit on the land and some children's play areas and gardens, do not seem prepared to help pay for the Martello Tower.

Instead, this will fall on taxpayers and the hope of some grant aid from a Euro scheme called Holding the Fort.

The scheme is a partnership between European funding bodies and Essex County Council to interpret, conserve and renovate historical forts. Landguard Fort at Felixstowe is already benefiting.

At their cabinet meeting on Tuesday April 15, councillors are being asked to allocate £35,000 towards the work at the tower, and £25,000 for specialist technical advice.

No project has yet been identified – and until the survey of the building is complete, the cost of structural works or possible schemes will not be known.

A joint report by chief executive Tom Griffin and director of planning and leisure, Jeremy Schofield, suggests that the tower could be suitable to be a restaurant or museum, or an attraction to link in with the maritime theme of the south seafront plans.

The tower – build between 1808 and 1811 – is empty except for the rooftop lookout, which is used by Coastwatch volunteers to keep an eye on the seafront as part of the resort's rescue services network.

Mr Griffin and Mr Schofield say talks with English Heritage show that the group "expects the potential of the Martello Tower to be unlocked" as part of the south seafront scheme.

"The south seafront project has been planned on the basis of being self-financing in terms of capital costs," says their report.

"There is no specific provision for funding to lever any contribution from the Holding the Fort initiative.

"Therefore, in order to meet the requirements of English Heritage and provide support funding it will be necessary to allocate £35,000 to support the Martello Tower European funding bid."

Bloor Homes is preparing a planning application for the south seafront which will include homes, a café, upmarket pub-restaurant, car parking, gardens, wooden galleon and an ampitheatre.

n What do you think – what would be a good use for the Martello Tower, and should Bloor Homes pay for it? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk


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