Walkers could get escalator to the sea

BUILDING an escalator to the beach is one of two dozen potential projects costing tens of millions of pounds which could help breathe new life into Felixstowe's town and seafront.

Richard Cornwell

BUILDING an escalator to the beach is one of two dozen potential projects costing tens of millions of pounds which could help breathe new life into Felixstowe's town and seafront.

Details of the possible project were given to members of the resort's business community at a special meeting at the Brook Hotel in Orwell Road by representatives of the Felixstowe Futures Group.

Guest speakers were Stephen Bracewell, chairman of the steering group, and programme manager Roger Bacon, who outlined the vision behind the project and some of the ideas currently being examined.

The meeting - organised by Felixstowe Chamber of Trade and Commerce - was told one of the biggest problems hindering the development of the seaside town were the cliffs which separate the town and seafront.

Many people who visit the seafront don't visit the shops, and many shoppers choose not to go down to the sea.

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The steep hills - Bent, South and Convalescent - deterr many people and are difficult for the elderly, the meeting heard

It was hoped one of the projects could connect the seafront and shops in Hamilton Road and improve access.

Consultants David Lock Associates, who have drawn up the list of potential projects, suggested creating a new landmark viewing tower at the end of Hamilton Road with panoramic views over the seafront, and a lift and stairs to the beach.

But the meeting was told the latest thinking is to build a café on to the Town Hall in South Cliff Gardens in Undercliff Road West with an escalator from Wolsey Gardens to the beach.

The aim is to create a “a thriving seaside town and port, attractive to residents of all ages, and welcoming to visitors who wish to experience the town's beautiful coastal location, proud Edwardian heritage, vibrant and diverse retail offer, café culture and healthy outdoor lifestyle.”

Other ideas being looked at and refined - ready to be included in a masterplan - include beachside cafes, improving The Triangle in the town centre open-air performance area, seating and a water feature, and promoting the resort as a water sports centre.

Several sites are suggested for redevelopment, the seafront gardens could become a national attraction with a bid for a £1.5m lottery grant, the pier rejuvenated and winter gardens built next to the Town Hall.

One of the most critical issues in creating a new-look Felixstowe will be the securing of funds for the projects. The group said grants will be sought both from UK and European sources and “could take several months - or longer - to secure”.

What do you think of the ideas to regenerate Felixstowe for the 21st century? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Future of Felixstowe - some of the 27 schemes identified

Create a New Triangle by getting rid of the loos and shelter and creating a café, water feature, open-air performance area with retractable roof and seating.

Convert beach shelters to cafes, and provide new modern beach huts with solar heating and wind power for electricity.

Revitalise seafront gardens to create a modern string of gardens with a Coastal Landscape theme showcasing the varied coastal plants from around the UK, and create winter gardens

Regenerate the pier as a watersports centre, with café, shops, bandstand, seating.

Redevelop the Convalescent Hill car park with a clifftop restaurant, high quality hotel and homes.

Turn the Spa Pavilion into a community arts centre by cutting its seating to around 500, putting in workshop space and drama studios, and creating a beachside café underneath.

Provide a new beach station plus homes alongside, and use the old bus station site for homes.

Allow cycling, skaters and roller bladers to use the prom but have a pedestrian-priority route for walkers.