Mixed feelings over project go-ahead

OPPONENTS of a £25 million-plus regeneration project for Felixstowe have today been left disappointed - after it was given the go-ahead before they could give their views in full.

OPPONENTS of a £25 million-plus regeneration project for Felixstowe have today been left disappointed - after it was given the go-ahead before they could give their views in full.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister gave the final OK in the 20-year saga of the resort's south seafront site, but a start on the project still has to wait until a £10m sea defence scheme is complete.

Approval means 158 new homes can be built on the 17-acre site, plus a £2.47m maritime park, car parking, and transformation of a Napoleonic Martello Tower into an arts centre.

The park will feature a wide variety of play equipment for families with young children, water play jets, picnic areas and seats, cycle paths, gardens, new toilets, small stage and seating area for musical and theatrical events, 59 beach huts, and cafe.

The fire-damaged Herman de Stern, a former convalescent home and theatre, will be demolished.

The decision by the government came quicker than expected and angered protesters.

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Felixstowe councillor Dot Paddick said: “I am really gutted - but this will not be the end. It's not over yet and we will look for a way to fight this.

“It took us ten days to get the information Suffolk Coastal had submitted to GO-East and because of that disgraceful delay we were unable to get full details of our opposition submission in.

“That is awful and means a decision has been made without both sides being heard.

“We are very worried this scheme will be built on a flood plain and the government has repeatedly said flood plains should not be built on.”

Suffolk Coastal District Council cabinet member Rae Leighton welcomed the go-ahead.

He said: “The park, with its maritime theme, and the high-quality residential development, promises to be a multi-million pound addition that would be central to the much-needed regeneration of the resort.

“There has been a long and vigorous debate but I hope that all sides, including this council, the town council and the community, can now work together to get the very best from this exciting project.

“We are now closer to being able to replace an increasingly ugly eye-sore with some exciting new leisure facilities aimed at all the family.

“We would also secure the future and restoration of the centre-piece Martello Tower, and gain new housing, much of which would be suitable for first-time buyers, and some of which would be available for rent to our residents.”

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