Warning over Felixstowe flooding

SCIENTISTS today gave their starkest warning yet about the risk of flooding on the east coast – as Felixstowe councillors gave their backing to building on a flood plain.

SCIENTISTS today gave their starkest warning yet about the risk of flooding on the east coast - as Felixstowe councillors gave their backing to building on a flood plain.

A new report by the Office of Science and Technology said global warming would affect the lives of millions in the next 50 years, and towns which suffered in the horrific 1953 floods were the area of "highest risk".

The document has been put together by 60 experts under the leadership of the government's chief scientist Sir David King.

Forty people died in Felixstowe during the flooding and a permanent memorial is to be put up to them just a few hundred yards from the south seafront, a designated flood plain where it is planned to build 209 homes.

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Felixstowe Town Council's plans committee has approved the scheme in principle but with a long list of conditions and issues it would like tackled.

These include a need for more affordable homes in the development - only ten per cent are planned - and that new flood defences are built to protect them.

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Only four of the council's 16 members were allowed to vote on the project because of conflicts of interest. The scheme was accepted by three votes to one - Conservatives Mike Stokell, Cyril Webb and Mike Goodman in favour, Labour councillor Don Smith against.

Mr Smith did not believe the development for the 17-acre site had been designed in the spirit of the policy for the land, which says that it should feature a maritime park with only a "minor" part for housing.

He believed using one-third for homes was not minor, and he called for the amount of housing to be reduced.

Liberal Democrat David Cawdron, who was allowed to speak but not vote, said: "I am not happy at all with this scheme - there are so many things wrong with it.

"I cannot accept that we will lose 15 acres of open land that the public has been able to enjoy for playing and walking their dogs in return for housing.

"And we are only getting £354,000 per care for this land right on Felixstowe seafront when land is selling in Woodbridge for £1.5m per acre. How can it really be that much cheaper?"

The committee's list of conditions included repair and conversion of the Martello Tower into an art gallery to be done as part of the scheme, more toilets, beach showers, better refreshment provision, a water fountain, more litter and dog bins, and emergency telephone.

There was a need for traffic measures to help residents in the area, which already suffers huge congestion all year round on Sundays.

Mr Webb said: "We need more affordable housing so young people can get onto the first rung of the ladder.

"Ten per cent is something, but we could jump up and down with the district council to see if we can enhance that."

n How do you think the scheme will affect the seafront area? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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