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Pier to be demolished

PUBLISHED: 15:00 25 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:36 03 March 2010

DEMOLITION of Felixstowe pier is now inevitable following the collapse of plans to replace it with a £15 million mega attraction to regenerate the resort.

DEMOLITION of Felixstowe pier is now inevitable following the collapse of plans to replace it with a £15 million mega attraction to regenerate the resort.

Members of the charitable trust which owns the century-old landmark have met with planners to outline their plans to knock it down.

They have rejected suggestions that a smaller scale project could be considered and say only a really big tourist attraction was commercially viable.

Secretary of the trust Norman Thompson and trustee Malcolm Minns met with Suffolk Coastal council's director of planning and leisure Jeremy Schofield and tourism chief Tony Osmanski to discuss the latest situation.

"We told them there is no option but to demolish the pier as it is no longer safe for the public to use – it's either that or let it fall down," said Mr Thompson.

"The council will look at the best way and time for this to happen.

"The officers wanted to know if other projects had been considered, but the trust feels that only a really mega project is worthwhile and would be commercially viable and really regenerate Felixstowe as a resort.

"The council sadly isn't really interested in regenerating the town in this way. Today a town or resort needs something special to make people want to visit and Felixstowe will now miss out on what would have been a fantastic opportunity."

Mr Minns said demolition was now "almost inevitable".

"We have nowhere else to go and the only alternative is to let it fall down. The only other option would be to restore it, which would be hideously expensive and serve no purpose and attract no public money," he told town councillors.

Suffolk Coastal council says it is seeking to regenerate Felixstowe in other ways – principally through minor projects to rekindle the Edwardian and Victorian feel of the town, and the south seafront 17-acre development.

Trustees had hoped to replace the crumbling pier with a new one 200 yards long, featuring the world's biggest revolving restaurant, conference centre, casino, ten-pin bowls and other attractions.

But they abandoned the plan after five years of trying because of lack of public support and interest.

They had failed to raise enough money for a feasibility study for the venture, which was needed to persuade the National Lottery and other grant-giving organisations to support it.

They raised £20,000 from the Eastern of England Development Agency and £10,000 from an anonymous donor for the study, but Suffolk Coastal would only give £5,000, which was matched by the county council.

WEBLINKS: www.piers.co.uk

www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

STRETCHING out to sea, usually home to sideshows and ice-cream and candy floss stalls, a pier is the hallmark of a resort.

But soon, Felixstowe's will disappear – leaving the seaside town without one of its best-known landmarks and robbing it of the chance to have a major attraction which would have regenerated the resort and brought economic boom time.

In recent times Felixstowe's pier has not been something you would write home about on the back of a saucy postcard.

But when it was opened in 1905 by the Coast Development Corporation, it was half a mile in length and one of the longest in the country.

Electric tram cars ran from the pier head – a penny all the way – and steamers alighted at its end to take people to and from other resorts.

During the second world war the pier was severed in order to stop Germans landing on its end and then running up its length to invade.

Afterwards the section which had been cut was not mended and the outer length was demolished.

But the pier has never boasted the attractions which have blessed others. The arcade at its entrance, owned by Stan Threadwell, will remain, but on the pier itself there has been little except kiddies' rides and the Slippery Dip.

For the most part its been a walk out to sea, the place many people have taken their Sunday constitutional to enjoy different views of the shore.

And it's been home to local anglers, who have enjoyed casting out from its end, enjoying the peace and the buffeting from the elements.

For the past three years it has been closed to the public because safety experts say it is too dangerous to use and could collapse in a fierce storm.

Because of paltry support from Suffolk Coastal council, no-one will ever know whether it could have become the mega experience attraction Felixstowe needs and now will never have.


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