Go-ahead for million pound boost
SURPRISE, surprise!Despite objections from hundreds of people, heritage and preservation groups, residents' associations and even their own members, a council today looks set to give the go-ahead to a plan which would make it millions of pounds richer.
Despite objections from hundreds of people, heritage and preservation groups, residents' associations and even their own members, a council today looks set to give the go-ahead to a plan which would make it millions of pounds richer.
But campaigners do not believe Suffolk Coastal can make a fair decision on the controversial £15 million-plus project to create a new seaside maritime park in south Felixstowe - because it is too involved.
The council is co-promoter of the scheme for the 17-acre south seafront, landowner, and stands to make millions of pounds in profit.
After 20 years of uncertainty, the project for the flood plain is being recommended for approval - despite grave concerns from residents, heritage and conservation groups, and some senior council officers.
Doreen Rayner, chairman of the West End of Felixstowe Residents' Association, said she was "not surprised at all" at the planners' report and it was still hoped the government will "call in" the scheme and make the final decision.
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"Go-East has told us that the matter has been put before the secretary of state and we are now waiting for a decision," said Mrs Rayner today.
"This decision needs to be made away from the council for it to be seen as fair - how can a council decide a plan for its own land, a scheme it has helped design and from which it will profit?
"The other issue which concerns us is that the council seeks public help to produce policies in a Local Plan so it is seen to be democratic and then as soon as something like this comes up it kicks those policies out."
Councillors meet next Tuesday to decide the project and are being urged to give the go-ahead.
The scheme for land between Orford Road and Manor End will feature a public park with an amphitheatre, wooden galleon, gardens, play areas and public art, café, restaurant, car parks, and 209 new homes to pay for it.
Some councillors have been concerned the "wow factors" have been removed from the scheme and questioned whether the council is getting value for money in "giving away" six acres for homes for £2.4m of leisure facilities.
English Heritage has objected because of the "significant adverse affect" the scheme will have on a Martello Tower in the centre of the site, and says the project is against national policies.
Suffolk Preservation Society and the Felixstowe Society have both urged refusal, and the county council is concerned about congestion and traffic safety.
The district council's leisure services manager has expressed a number of concerns about the play equipment, the fact the resort already has many gardens, and the "missed opportunity" to work with the community on the public art.
The head of health wants strict control over the use of the amphitheatre for live events and has drawn up a list of 18 conditions.
Concerns from residents and visitors include building on a flood plain, density, size of the new homes, and inadequate sea defences.
Council officers accept the housing is more than a "minor part" of the scheme but say the reasons for it are acceptable.
What do you think should be done with the land? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk