Resort's fire wreck still too dangerous

NO ONE has yet been able to properly inspect the fire-ravaged Herman de Stern centre at Felixstowe - because council chiefs say today it is still just too dangerous.

NO-ONE has yet been able to properly inspect the fire-ravaged Herman de Stern centre at Felixstowe - because council chiefs say today it is still just too dangerous.

It is understood even fire and police officials have not been allowed in since the blaze was extinguished and experts have not yet removed asbestos.

The ban on access is frustrating campaigners who still believe the building can be saved.

The Suffolk Preservation Society (SPS), which has appointed an expert in historic buildings to survey the former theatre and convalescent home, is now refusing to comment on proposals for the south seafront - which involve demolishing the centre - until it gets access.


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Suffolk Coastal strategic director Tony Osmanski said there were various health and safety issues concerning the building, including asbestos, and the council was not in a position to allow access to the site.

“This requirement extends to all agencies and must remain in force until such time as entry into the site and into the structure will not cause health and safety concerns,” he said.

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Specialist contractors CDC Demolition have already done some demolition - part of the corner tower and gable ends of the roof - to make it safe.

It was feared the gable ends particularly could have collapsed in high winds and bricks and other materials could have been blown into the road and nearby land, causing danger.

SPS director Richard Ward has written to the council to seek assurances the south seafront plans will not be determined until it can submit comments.

It would be “most unfortunate” if demolition was agreed before the society's expert could comment.

“It is important that those interested in saving the building are afforded as much opportunity as possible to prepare and submit their case for retention,” he added.

Town councillor Mike Ninnmey said: “If no-one is allowed onto the site, I cannot understand how anyone will decide its future and what will happen - how will it become safe?

“From the outside, it would appear only the roof and upper floor was damaged, but we need a proper survey.”

The centre in Sea Road was insured for rebuilding for £940,000 and the council is waiting for the loss adjustor's verdict.

Metal fencing around the site because of the danger and people asked to keep away. Asbestos boards inside were disturbed by the fire.

Do you think the Herman de Stern should now be demolished? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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