Selling seafront is a bold step forward
NO-ONE can deny that parts of Felixstowe seafront are looking a little shabby.
Neglect has set in for a variety of reasons – changing times and tastes, lack of cash, and a lack of ideas.
Now Suffolk Coastal is taking some positive steps forward to regenerate the area – and has invited businesses to come up with ideas and invest in the increasingly rundown site just the other side of the leisure centre in Sea Road.
The 4,000 sq m or so of land includes the derelict boating lake, big kiosk, go-kart arena, and old putting green and pond, where the donkey rides currently take place.
Refurbishing the boating lake alone would cost �100,000 – money the council simply hasn’t got, and even if it did have, we wouldn’t want it spent on repairing a yacht pond.
No-one has sailed model boats on the lake for years and other recent attempts at using it for water rides have not proved viable.
It is an attraction which has not just seen better days, but has had its day.
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Putting is no longer as popular as it once was, the pond, last used for remote controlled boats, is not viable, and the go-kart track is out-of-date. Visitors want modern attractions.
Of course, it’s desperately sad that the council has not taken action before now.
The lack of investment in new attractions in Felixstowe has over the past 20 years been pitiful.
Times have changed though – and so has the council’s role.
Today the council no longer invests in and runs facilities in the same way that it used to and we can no longer look to the council to do many of the things it used to do.
The leisure centre, Spa Pavilion and Brackenbury sports centre are among services given to others to operate.
The council has no money – and we wouldn’t want to see our council tax rise to provide it with any.
So the money has to come from private hands – businesses willing to set up new attractions.
At least Suffolk Coastal is trying.
As landowner, it has made the bold and right decision to lease or sell these seafront sites to try to regenerate the area and attract new money and ideas.
It’s not going to be easy – the economic climate is a long way from recovery – and it is early days yet.
It will be fascinating to see what ideas come forward and let’s hope it’s a big success.