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New pier plans for Felixstowe axed

PUBLISHED: 02:34 23 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:43 03 March 2010

HOPES of regenerating Felixstowe as a major seaside resort suffered a massive blow today as the scheme for a £15 million new pier complex was axed.

P1….Felix Star splash

EXCLUSIVE

By Richard Cornwell

richard.cornwell@ecng.co.uk

HOPES of regenerating Felixstowe as a major seaside resort suffered a massive blow today as the scheme for a £15 million new pier complex was axed.

The dream had been to provide a "mega experience" with the world's biggest revolving restaurant as one of many features to attract tens of thousands of people to the town.

It would have created 150 new jobs and injected an estimated £3.9 million in to the town each year.

But organisers of the ambitious and exciting project said they were frustrated at the time it was taking to get the scheme started – and had been left deeply disappointed by the attitude of the community and councillors.

The time it took for Suffolk Coastal council to give a grant towards a vital feasibility study to see if the project would be viable, is known to be one of the reasons behind the decision to abandon the project.

The charitable trust will now decide whether to demolish the old pier, one of the town's best known landmarks, or leave it to fall in to the sea.

It said it had not been able to raise the £50,000 needed for the feasbility study, which was needed to persuade the National Lottery and other grant-giving bodies to support the venture.

Ironically, the trust had recently raised £40,000 towards the cost of the report – including £20,000 from the East of England development Agency, £5,000 each from the district and county councils, and £10,000 from a mystery supporter.

But it was Suffolk Coastal's decision to only give £5,000 which made the difference. Had the council given £10,000 as requested, the county council would have matched it and the consultants could have been commissioned.

A statement from the Felixstowe Pier Trust said that after four years of trying to get the project started it was with "great reluctance and regret" that it had decided not to proceed.

It said: "The unavoidable fact is that grants made available for the feasibility studies from both public and private sectors fell short of the total estimated cost required for this essential exercise. This would further protract uncertainty and delay in moving ahead.

"In the continuing absence of complete and convincing feasibility studies, there was an inability to measure with reasonable accuracy the chances of the project attracting the major capital funding from public of private sources."

The long duration of the project also had serious financial implications for Pier Amusements Ltd, owners of the arcade at the entrance to the pier and who had deferred its redevelopment in order to fit in with the pier scheme.

The trustees paid tribute to the constant energy and enthusiasm of their secretary Norman Thompson, and said: "His commitment and hard work have been an example to all of us who care about the future of Felixstowe and district."

The new pier would have been 200 yards long with five decks, one with a 100ft diameter revolving restaurant. Features would have included ten-pin bowling, shops, snack bars, family entertainment centre, casino, conference centre, bars, and a heritage and climatic centre, and a landing stage for pleasure boats.

Web link: www.piers.co.uk

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