Seafront vision to be shown to public

FAMILIES living close to Felixstowe's controversial south seafront will be shown the latest vision for redeveloping the site – just as they were promised.

FAMILIES living close to Felixstowe's controversial south seafront will be shown the latest vision for redeveloping the site – just as they were promised.

Developers Bloor Homes, working in partnership with the council, have spent the past five months redesigning parts of the multi-million pound scheme for 200 homes and a few leisure facilities, and the project is now well behind schedule.

But councillors are confident they will be able to give planning permission before they have to go the polls and face the voters next May, if only by the skin of their teeth.

Residents have demanded to see the revised plans, and Suffolk Coastal announced that a public exhibition showing the changes to the 17-acre scheme will take place "in the next few weeks".

A planning application will then be made in January, which will be accompanied by another display of plans and public consultation, with a decision by April.

The council claims the proposals for south seafront will give a major boost to the regeneration of the resort, providing a flagship leisure scheme that will be a hit with people of all ages, though opponents have serious doubts.

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"When we held the public meeting and exhibitions in May, I said there would be further opportunities for the public to find out more. This exhibition will be the next stage for them," said David Smith, cabinet member for the project.

"The new designs will demonstrate that changes have been made on the three main areas of public comment made during May.

"There is now more car parking, a lower key restaurant-pub, issues around Manor Terrace have been taken on board, and also the recent agreement that beach huts will continue to remain within the development.

"This will be a chance for the public to see where we are now with this important scheme to breathe fresh life into what is now a derelict site. I anticipate that there be another exhibition in January when the planning application from Bloor Homes has been received.

"This is a vital scheme to the long-term future of Felixstowe – it is our chance at no cost to the council taxpayer to provide a bright new look to a part of the seafront which currently looks like a wasteland.

"It has to be done right, and that is why it is taking so long – Suffolk Coastal and Bloor Homes want to get it right."

Mr Smith said that due to need to get the best scheme, take on board the public's views, and the complexity of negotiations, it was now well behind schedule and the compulsory purchase orders for homes and land had been put on hold.

"I would like to dispel any uncertainty that this may cause to the landowners – our firm intention is to press ahead with the development, and we continue to be keen to purchase by coming to agreement with the owners. If that still proves difficult we shall, as soon as it is legally appropriate, restart the necessary legal process," added Mr Smith.

In addition to homes – needed to pay for the leisure facilities – the scheme features a bizarre ampitheatre, wooden galleon, gardens, café, and play areas.