New objection to seafront proposal

HERITAGE chiefs today threw a major spanner in the works after objecting to a £15 million-plus project to create a maritime park paid for by 209 new homes.

HERITAGE chiefs today threw a major spanner in the works after objecting to a £15 million-plus project to create a maritime park paid for by 209 new homes.

Experts say the Felixstowe south seafront scheme would wreck the setting of an historic Martello Tower and an underground nuclear bunker, part of the national treasure trove of war-time monuments.

English Heritage's objection to the project was revealed as three councillors who have been campaigning for six months to be allowed to look round the Napoleonic tower and 20th century bunker eventually had their wish granted.

But council officials behind the development have accused English Heritage of being impossible to negotiate with - and fear its protest could put the plan for the 17-acre site in jeopardy.

Mike Ninnmey, Dot Paddick and Harry Dangerfield, deeply concerned about the future of the tower and bunker and believe they should form part of a coastal military history trail to attract visitors, were allowed to view the buildings.

"Council papers we have not got hold of show that council officials have been talking to local artists about using the Martello Tower as an art gallery for months without councillors being told," said Mr Ninnmey.

Most Read

"Of course, artists would love a free Martello Tower to exhibit in - they would use a scout hut if it was free.

"What we need is proper public consultation on what this tower should be used for in the future."

English Heritage has recommended refusal of the scheme because it is against local, county and national policies. It does not provide for the repair and future use of the tower, and it wants the project redesigned.

The body is "very disappointed" that the council did not take account of its comments made 16 months ago.

New homes four and five storeys high to be built in an arc around the tower, which is of "great national significance", would dwarf the monument.

"In addition, the location of the amphitheatre adjacent to the tower will introduce an intrusive, inappropriate and alien feature which will detract from the setting and historic appreciation of the tower," it said.

Assistant chief executive of Suffolk Coastal Bruce Laws said English Heritage were "an extremely difficult" body with which to negotiate.

"I have been negotiating with different groups for 30 years and I have never come across a style of negotiation anything like English Heritage's - they tell you what they want, you negotiate and give them 99pc, and still they want twice as much. It's impossible," he said.

He believed the development would preserve the historic setting of the tower, which would remain the focus of the development, and many of the "wow" leisure elements around it had been removed to satisfy the heritage group.

The council's project task group has agreed to seek lottery funding for a £755,000 project to convert the tower into an art gallery.

n What do you think of the idea to use the tower as an art gallery? Is there a better use? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail