New hope for community building

WITH the future of the century-old Herman de Stern again hanging in the balance, a call has been made for it to become a social and cultural centre.It had been proposed to demolish the much-loved building in Orford Road, Felixstowe, as part of the £15 million-plus housing and leisure scheme for the south seafront and replace it with a restaurant.

WITH the future of the century-old Herman de Stern again hanging in the balance, a call has been made for it to become a social and cultural centre.

It had been proposed to demolish the much-loved building in Orford Road, Felixstowe, as part of the £15 million-plus housing and leisure scheme for the south seafront and replace it with a restaurant.

But councillors rejected the scheme and asked for the Herman de Stern to be kept – and for it to be refurbished and a new use found.

Trevor Lockwood, who is organising next month's Felixstowe Film Festival, said there were many possible uses for the building.


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"Seeing the condition of the buildings pushed forward on the BBC's Restoration programme, I wonder why we are prepared to dismiss the Herman de Stern and to accept that it must be demolished," he said.

"Felixstowe doesn't have any suitable large buildings for public use yet this magnificent place is allowed to fall derelict.

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"It is in a perfect location, surrounded by derelict land that could be used for further car parking, or future developments.

"The Herman de Stern should be restored, and then it offers a number of possibilities. Stage companies, choirs, dancers and other performers would love a small performance area.

"Local artists and craft workers would welcome studio space, and dozens of local societies, clubs and associations rooms for committee meetings, and local events.

"With a shop and a restaurant within the building its future could be assured, and it would brighten up a dejected and forlorn part of the town."

Mr Lockwood, who runs By Design in High Road East, and Author Publishing, of Gainsborough Road, said funding could be available from a number of different organisations to help with the cost of the project.

He was also not convinced the Martello Tower on the south seafront should become an art gallery and believed another option could be a recording studio.

Suffolk Coastal council has received two recent requests from businessmen wanting to explore the possibility of using the Herman de Stern – which in the past has been a small theatre, community centre, flats, gym, dance school, ambulance station and social club – as a headquarters for their companies.

However, the council was intent on demolishing the building to create a gateway into the new 17-acre development.

It also said the building was riddled with asbestos which could cost nearly £500,000 to remove.

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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