Tough decisions over resort revamp

EVEN less leisure could be featured in new proposals for a 17-acre recreation site at Felixstowe as project bosses today said tough decisions must be faced.

EVEN less leisure could be featured in new proposals for a 17-acre recreation site at Felixstowe as project bosses today said tough decisions must be faced.

Planners criticised the project for having fewer attractions than a village playing field – but now it may ironically have even less than first thought.

Councillor Andy Smith, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member with responsibility for the redevelopment project, said new plans being drawn up for the south seafront would take into account the criticisms of the last scheme.

However, cutting the amount of housing, which will pay for the regeneration scheme, and finding cash to refurbish the Martello Tower would have an effect.

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He said: "I believe that a way can still be found to fulfil the potential of this important stretch of seafront with a combination of recreational facilities and new housing that will fully complement the Martello Tower.

"I hope a revised design can do even more to capture and enhance the historic status of the tower – if necessary at the cost of losing some of the leisure facilities we had hoped for.

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"We are talking to Bloor Homes (the council's project partner) about how we can together achieve the best possible result.

"What needs to be appreciated is that the housing generates the funding for the recreational facilities but these are not cheap – particularly the bits you don't see – drainage, lighting, ground preparation and so on. The proposed car parking in the planning application alone would have cost over £500,000.

"Any new plan may well mean less housing and so less money to be spent which will mean some tough choices will have to be made about how many of the proposed attractions could still be kept.

"This development was always meant to fund itself – that is why we have been working in partnership with a company prepared to make a multi-million pound investment as the council has no funds to give this part of Felixstowe the vital boost it so badly needs."

Mr Smith said he was "sad and rather surprised" the previous "excellent proposal" for 209 homes, an amphitheatre, play areas, gardens, and restaurant were rejected.

He said: "It ought to be recognised that some aspects of our planning policies for the site have been overtaken by the passage of time and financial realities. "Very thorough checks of the land value against the leisure provision, as required by law and verified by a QC, showed that we were getting value for money – despite what many people seem to think.

"We have a profit-sharing deal on the homes which was expected to generate additional income, from ongoing likely increases in housing values, to carry out further improvements to the area, particularly the Martello Tower."

n What do you think should be built on the land? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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