Restrictions blight seafront development
RESTRICTIONS on the use of a prime 13-acre site close to Felixstowe port have been blamed for the failure to develop the land.The owners of the Haven Exchange site opposite Dock Gate One say the ban on overnight working, food shops, leisure uses, hotels or institutions, have made it impossible to sell.
By Richard Cornwell
RESTRICTIONS on the use of a prime 13-acre site close to Felixstowe port have been blamed for the failure to develop the land.
The owners of the Haven Exchange site opposite Dock Gate One say the ban on overnight working, food shops, leisure uses, hotels or institutions, have made it impossible to sell.
Now councillors are to be asked to take a fresh look at the site – and consider once again whether a package of homes, businesses and warehouse shops should be allowed.
The land – which lies at the end of the A14 and start of Walton Avenue, just below Peewit Hill and Dovedale – was last discussed 14 months ago when Suffolk Coastal councillors refused to allow homes on part of it. They said the site was isolated and the people living there would have to use cars every time they went out.
In addition, the land is inside the evacuation zone for a major incident at the Felixstowe Calor Gas Plant.
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Since then the planning officers have met regularly with the landowners to try to find a way forward.
Last summer, director of planning and leisure, Jeremy Schofield, commissioned consultants to give advice on potential development of the site, though they also found that the restrictions on use made it financially unviable to develop.
The owners have now carried out a traffic impact assessment and this report is being studied by highways chiefs and planners.
Suffolk Coastal's development control sub committee will visit the site and the surrounding area on February 18 to look at all the issues and possible alternative uses for it, especially the prospect of using part of it for housing.
Officers still think a decision on housing would be premature and could prejudice an investigation currently underway into the resort's future housing needs. They will bring a detailed report to councillors in March or April.
The land was originally earmarked in the 1960s and 70s for a major leisure attraction, such as a theme park.
But the Health and Safety Executive is now not keen to allow uses which will attract large numbers of users because of the Calor Gas plant.
Part of the site has been used for a McDonald's restaurant and drive-in, and a Kingdom Hall for Felixstowe Jehovah's Witnesses.
Current planning permission is for a mixture of warehouses, general industry and offices, and 45,000 sq ft of non-food shops.