Go ahead for new gardens
WORK on designs for Felixstowe's seafront gardens is today set to start in earnest after the go-ahead for a £1 million renovation project.Councillors believe flower power can help keep the resort's tourist trade alive and say the 7.
WORK on designs for Felixstowe's seafront gardens is today set to start in earnest after the go-ahead for a £1 million renovation project.
Councillors believe flower power can help keep the resort's tourist trade alive and say the 7.5 acres of gardens are a "unique selling point" to attract visitors.
Despite deterioration in places, the gardens have recently been elevated to the status of a national treasure and included in the nation's heritage register.
Now Suffolk Coastal hopes that recognition will persuade the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to give a massive grant to help with a much-needed overhaul to return them to their Victorian and Edwardian splendour.
Director of planning and leisure Jeremy Schofield said talks had been held with the HLF and the signs were "very positive".
"With the government emphasising the importance of open spaces in urban areas and the heritage status of the gardens, the timing could be just right to seek lottery funds," he said.
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The cabinet was told the scheme to refurbish the gardens from Bath Tap to the funfair, plus the Town Hall Gardens, was estimated to cost £950,000, of which the council would pay £95,000.
But the cost must not go over £1m – or lottery funding would drop and the council would have to pay more.
Maggy Wilson, cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: "The gardens are a unique selling point for Felixstowe and attract many visitors, and are also a tremendous amenity for residents.
"This is an opportunity to make them an ever greater tourist attraction and make them even more beautiful for the future."
Chairman of the resort regeneration group, Doreen Savage described the project as "a wonderful opportunity".
Councillor Andy Smith asked for consideration to be given to replacing the Edwardian shelter in the Town Hall Gardens which was demolished in 1984. It could be a restaurant with fine sea views.
But Eddie Peters, outdoor leisure and amenities manager, said it could prove extremely expensive and the council would only be able to do so much.
If the lottery bid is not successful, the council still faces £270,000 of work to demolish and rebuild the Long Shelter, currently fenced off and unsafe, and the old Pump House, and other urgent work.
The next stage will be to prepare a project planning report to prepare the main lottery bid. Work would not start on the gardens until 2006.
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