Spa garden revamp could be shelved

AN AGREED scheme to give Felixstowe's nationally treasured Edwardian seafront gardens a near-£1 million facelift today looks set to be shelvedSuffolk Coastal is preparing to back track on the ambitious project – and in the two years since it agreed to carry it out has still not made a lottery bid.

AN AGREED scheme to give Felixstowe's nationally treasured Edwardian seafront gardens a near-£1 million facelift today looks set to be shelved

Suffolk Coastal is preparing to back track on the ambitious project - and in the two years since it agreed to carry it out has still not made a lottery bid.

The council said it would put forward £95,000 towards the refurbishment to help it generate an £855,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

But now it has not decided whether or not it will even make the lottery application and would need partnership funding to go ahead - an indication the longed-for scheme will fall victim to cuts to keep the council tax down.

There will be huge disappointment as the revamp of the 7.5 acres of gardens around the Spa Pavilion was seen as one of the keys to the regeneration of the resort and its tourist trade.

Town councillors were told slow progress was being made on the overhaul of the gardens - regarded as a "unique selling point" to attract visitors - as no application was made last autumn, as had been expected, for a project planning grant to pay for consultants to draw up the business plan and garden design.

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A Suffolk Coastal spokesman said: "The seafront gardens are a valuable feature which contribute to the overall tourism attractions of Felixstowe.

"Owing to their exposed location they do require high levels of maintenance, and during the next six months we will be replacing the roof on the old pump house, in partnership with Harvest House, and deciding what should replace the long shelter.

"Initial discussions have already taken place with resort regeneration group to explore some outline proposals.

"In the longer term the council will need to determine whether or not it proceeds with its lottery bid which will be dependent on the availability of staff time, the probability of a successful bid and the availability of partnership funding."

Talks with the HLF over the chances of such a massive grant had been "very positive", especially as most of the gardens have been registered as national treasures worthy of keeping.

The aim would be to return the gardens to their original splendour - from Bath Tap to the funfair including the Spa Gardens and the Town Hall Gardens.

The Long Shelter is currently fenced off and unsafe and needs either to be demolished or rebuilt.

n What do you think - should the council spend our money on the Spa Gardens? Write to Evening Star Letters 30 Lower Brook Street Ipswich IP4 1AN or EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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