Resort could be in for £70million revamp

UP to £70 million in grants could be available for a series of projects to regenerate Felixstowe and give the resort a bright new future, it was revealed today.

UP to £70 million in grants could be available for a series of projects to regenerate Felixstowe and give the resort a bright new future, it was revealed today.

The money would come from a variety of organisations to provide new attractions to bring in more visitors, smarten up the town centre for residents, and provide new public art, expand the events programme and create other new services.

A new influential group of councillors, officers, economic regeneration experts and business leaders has been set up to steer the project - with the aim of securing the investment to put in place ideas recommended by consultants.

Some of the schemes being looked at include:

creation of new town “squares”;

Eden project-style winter gardens on the seafront;

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decked seafront viewing platform and walk;

redevelopment of the derelict bus station site.

Meetings have already started and the venture is closely connected with proposals to expand the Felixstowe area with more than 3,000 new homes over the next 15 years.

Richard Kerry, chairman of Trimley St Mary Parish Council, said: “The idea of the group is to deliver the recommendations made by David Lock Associates in the Felixstowe masterplan.

“No decisions have been taken yet. The group is looking at ways of securing investment, co-ordinating discussions with statutory and external organisations, putting together a programme of actions, funding opportunities and marketing activities.

“We have been told there could be £9m to £12m available in grants and the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) said they may be able to match those funds up to £18m.”

He added that there was a possibility that if Felixstowe was to link up with a European coastal community on a joint project - it was suggested Ostend could be a possibility but this would need extensive research - then the EU could offer up to £40m extra in cross-border funding.

The group is being chaired by Stephen Bracewell, chief executive of the Harwich Haven Authority, and administration done by Suffolk Coastal council.

The masterplan warned Felixstowe could lose more of its young people, see one of its high schools close, population fall, and shops and businesses hit by a big drop in trade unless the town expands.

Deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal Andy Smith has said the ideas for a new look for the town were exciting but only proposals and not cast in stone. The masterplan set a foundation to start working together to build a better Felixstowe.

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WINTER gardens with a lift to the seafront could be created to provide an unusual attraction.

Consultants imagine giant Eden Project-style greenhouse golf balls for people to wander around with exotic plans and walkways on different levels with scientific and educational displays.

It could be sited below Hamilton Gardens, where there would be a panoramic terrace offering views of the seafront.

The report stated: “It would provide an effective means of connecting the town centre with the beach, an all-season amenity for local people, and additionally draw the adjoining Spa Pavilion back into Felixstowe's cultural, recreational and commercial fold.”

Meanwhile, The Triangle in the town centre could be redesigned to include a sitting out space and a café, and Bank Corner redesigned to become Trinity Square.

The forecourt of the railway station could also be improved with planting of boxed trees, architectural lighting, renamed Sir John Mills Place with a statue of the town's most famous son as its centrepiece.

A number of others sites in the town could also be redeveloped with new attractions.

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