Parties agree to south seafront summit

ALTERNATIVE proposals for the development of a 17-acre derelict seafront site earmarked for a £25 million-plus regeneration project are to be discussed at a top-level meeting.

ALTERNATIVE proposals for the development of a 17-acre derelict seafront site earmarked for a £25 million-plus regeneration project are to be discussed at a top-level meeting.

Lobbying by the Suffolk Preservation Society has persuaded Suffolk Coastal District Council to attend a meeting with them next month to look at different ways of using the site in Felixstowe.

Councillors have already approved plans for a maritime park, 158 homes, the conversion of a Martello Tower to an arts centre and other attractions on the south seafront. The scheme would also include demolition of the fire-ravaged Herman de Stern centre.

But the project, which the council has promoted with its partners Bloor Homes, has generated strong concerns among some residents, who feel the town is not getting value for money for the land or a good enough scheme.

Suffolk Preservation Society believes there are more imaginative ways of improving the area.

Richard Ward, the society's director, said: “I'm pleased that Suffolk Coastal has taken up our offer to look at positive alternatives to the 'slash-and-burn scheme' currently being backed.

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“The Society has always believed that Felixstowe deserved better and we are hopeful that having paid for professional advice the council's officers will enter the meeting with an open mind.

“Ultimately, we believe that the redevelopment of Felixstowe's south seafront can achieve a balance between new housing, improved facilities and the imaginative conservation of what is valuable and valued by local people about the existing site.”

The society has asked Woodbridge-based landscape architects The Landscape Partnership to design an alternative project for the land.

The society is still intending to give serious consideration to seeking a judicial review of the decision-making process in granting planning permission to Bloor Homes should the summit prove unsuccessful.

Suffolk Coastal has still not finalised its deal with Bloor Homes. The council is still putting together the site and may have to use compulsory purchase powers to buy the rest of the land needed for the development, while no work can start until new sea defences have been built.

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