Project details to be unveiled

PUBLISHED: 13:00 18 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:31 03 March 2010

PRESSURE is growing today for details of the exciting multi-million pound project being planned for Felixstowe seafront to be unveiled as soon as possible.

PRESSURE is growing today for details of the exciting multi-million pound project being planned for Felixstowe seafront to be unveiled as soon as possible.

Two firms have been short-listed to build the major tourist attraction but the elements of their schemes are a closely-guarded secret.

Councillors are expected to decide their preferred bidder next month – but some officers would then like to keep under wraps all details for another six months until a planning application is made and formal public consultation is held.

Felixstowe councillor Andy Smith said it would not be 'good behaviour' on the part of Suffolk Coastal or in the public interest if details of the project for the 17-acre site were held any longer than was necessary.

He believed that once a bidder was chosen to work in partnership with the council, then an outline of the scheme and its contents could be announced.

"I believe people have a right to know what the council is doing and I think we should say at the conceptual stage what is involved," said Mr Smith, a member of the south seafront land sub committee.

"We have made a rod for our own back over this land. The community has a sense of ownership, and as a town as a whole, of this land and we owe it to them to say what is going on."

He feared that if the public had to wait until there was a planning application, it would only fuel rumour and misinformation. The council had to accept that some people would not like certain aspects of any plan – but most people would be very excited.

Assistant chief executive Bruce Laws said a planning application would be expected next spring and there would be an enormous amount of work to do over the winter months with the chosen bidder.

"The preferred bidder has not even been chosen yet, so it is impossible to say what might happen. Any decision about consultation or making public aspects of the scheme will be for the sub committee to make," he said.

Councillors are seeking a maritime heritage attraction on the south seafront to help regenerate the resort and attract thousands of visitors.

Residents want to work with the council, but are keen to see real benefits for their area and will vigorously fight any plans for a jet-ski launch site or for the demolition of the Herman de Stern building, the former West End Theatre.

In order for the project to be completed at no further cost to council taxpayers, the council has agreed to the principle of some homes being built so private companies can finance the overall scheme.

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