Long-awaited demolition to begin

ONE of Felixstowe's biggest eyesores is set to be demolished next week - ending a decade-long debate over what should happen to it.

ONE of Felixstowe's biggest eyesores is set to be demolished next week - ending a decade-long debate over what should happen to it.

Bulldozers will move in to knock down the Herman de Stern centre, which campaigners had wanted to turn into an arts complex and small theatre.

That dream really died last year when children set light to the seafront building, wrecking any chance of keeping it, even if Suffolk Coastal could have been persuaded to change its mind about its future and look at refurbishment.

Contractors Erith Group are being paid £129,500 to demolish the Edwardian property and work is scheduled to start on Monday .

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It is the first move in a £25 million-plus project to regenerate the 17-acre site behind it - and will create the gateway into the new development.

Demolition though is unlikely to be a spectacular smashing down of the building.

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Council officials say it is not a simple task as workers will have to remove asbestos from the site.

The asbestos - used as insulation, particularly for the heating system - is scattered throughout the debris because of the fire and will have to be removed in with current health and safety regulations.

The contractor also plans to use some of the bricks from the building as recycled infill material on the site but bricks being recycled for other uses will all have to be decontaminated.

The Herman de Stern - originally a convalescent home when it opened in 1902 but which has also served as a community centre and theatre - has been fenced off since the fire more than a year ago.

A Suffolk Coastal spokesman said the building has become an ugly eyesore and now was the best time to remove it as winter weather would make it difficult to carry out the work.

The building was insured for £940,000 - but the council is refusing to say how much of a pay-out it is receiving, although it is only a small fraction of that sum.

Permission has been given for 158 homes, a maritime park, café, play areas, car parks, events arena and refurbishment of the Martello Tower as an arts centre.

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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