Protest over site's future
FAMILIES fighting to stop a prime Felixstowe seafront site being developed have complained to the Ombudsman, the government and their MP.Residents, who have also employed solicitors to try to stop Suffolk Coastal council pressing ahead with the project, say they are stepping up their campaign because they expect a planning application to be submitted soon.
By Richard Cornwell
FAMILIES fighting to stop a prime Felixstowe seafront site being developed have complained to the Ombudsman, the government and their MP.
Residents, who have also employed solicitors to try to stop Suffolk Coastal council pressing ahead with the project, say they are stepping up their campaign because they expect a planning application to be submitted soon.
The scheme for the 17-acre south seafront will go-ahead – because the council has the right to grant permission and residents would have no right of appeal.
The only situation which might stop it is if the Environment Agency insists on so much work to protect the site – a flood plain – it becomes uneconomic to build.
Some councillors have already admitted privately that consent will be in place by the end of the year and a start made early in 2003 to fulfil a pledge made at the last elections before voters go to the polls again in May.
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But residents of the resort's West End feel it is unfair that the council can approve the scheme for its land and say councillors are bulldozing the project through and taking little notice of what local people want on the site.
People are unhappy that more than one-third will be given to developers Bloor Homes to build 188 homes in return for car parks, new seafront gardens, an ampitheatre, beach café, timber galleon, play areas and a pub.
Campaigner Mike Ninnmey has asked government officials to consider "calling in" the matter and for the decision to be made at Whitehall.
Doreen Rayner, chairman of the West End of Felixstowe Residents' Association, and Manor Terrace resident Joe George have both written to the Ombudsman to complain about the council's handling of the issue.
"I have received an acknowledgement from the Local Government Ombudsman and I am now waiting to see what will happen next," said Mrs Rayner.
"There are things we have repeatedly told the council about this site and about the wishes of local residents who live around it, and these views are not being taken into account at all."
Mr George has also written to deputy prime minister John Prescott, Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, Environment Agency, and planning officials.
"Councillors have formed a partnership with developers and together they are dictating, bullying and compelling us to accept plans that are not suitable for this stretch of land," he said.
"We are being totally ignored and treated with utter contempt."
Suffolk Coastal though denies residents' views are not being taken into consideration – and says that the conceptual plans have already been altered to take account of matters raised in the initial consultation process.
When a planning application is made, everyone will have an opportunity to put their view, which will then be presented to the development control sub committee when it decides if the venture should be approved.