Maritime park alternative for seafront

FAMILIES have designed their own project for Felixstowe's controversial south seafront – and look set to receive a national cash hand-out for the venture.

By Richard Cornwell

FAMILIES have designed their own project for Felixstowe's controversial south seafront – and look set to receive a national cash hand-out for the venture.

Fed up with being told there was no alternative to building nearly 200 homes, residents of Manor Terrace set about exploring other options and now have the support of the government's Countryside Agency for a maritime park.

They could receive around £70,000 towards the cost and have asked council chiefs and councillors for a meeting to discuss the idea.

"We keep getting told there is no other option, but now we know there is," said Tony Taylor, who has put together the idea with neighbour Steve Duff.

"We have already got across two hurdles and now our project has gone through to the final one and the committee which gives the grants.

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"The scheme we have designed would be a community project and it meets all the policy for the land and government guidance."

The scheme would use 3.75 acres of the 17-acre site – the land directly opposite Manor Terrace. It would feature open space with maritime gardens, a play area, picnic site, dog exercise area and beach huts.

Around 70pc of the funding for the scheme, which could cost around £100,000, would come from the Countryside Agency's Doorstep Green initiative.

The community would have to raise the rest of the money, through other grants, sponsorship, donations and work in kind.

Agency officials have examined the site and feel it would be an excellent opportunity and are recommending it for national funding.

"It's a popular misconception that people in Manor terrace are only interested in keeping their seaviews – but that's just not true," said Mr Taylor.

"The reason I bought my house is because it is a nice area. It is close to the sea and I like that, too. But we also appreciate our homes are at risk from flooding.

"The land opposite acts as a soakaway when the water comes over the sea wall, as it does many times in winter. A maritime park will ensure we still have that soakaway and are protected.

"This scheme will enhance Felixstowe and use the land for what it is designed for. It will be of benefit to residents, visitors, schoolchildren for nature trails, scouts and guides for camps, and people to play games."

Mr Duff said: "This is a real chance for the councillors to make themselves popular and listen to what people really want. What the council wants to do on that land defies common sense – we have spoken to people all along the terrace about our idea and everyone is in favour.

"The council would still have plenty of land on which to build houses and put car parks and whatever else was necessary."

Suffolk Coastal is proposing to develop the site with Bloor Homes. It says homes have to be built to fund the leisure facilities, which will include an ampitheatre, play areas, wooden galleon, gardens, pub and café.

WEBLINKS: www.countryside.gov.uk/doorstepgreen

www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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