Felixstowe pier officially opens – and the seaside town is booming
- Credit: Archant
Having rebranded itself to appeal to families and making itself more upmarket, Felixstowe is seeing a successful regeneration which has boosted trade for the shops, increased footfall for seafront businesses, and seen property prices rise.
Yesterday the new pierhead was officially opened – the latest in a series of projects, which has included the £4.8m renovation of the seafront gardens, reeopening of the Spa Pavilion, creation of Martello Park as part of the £25m south seafront scheme, the new events arena, restoration of the Bartlet, and opening of The Fludyers Hotel.
Stan Threadwell, whose family have owned the pier for 50 years, said the family recognised many years ago that the landmark had become “tired and old and needed updating” but it was a long process to bring their plans to fruition.
Initially a charitable trust was set up with the aim of raising around £15m for a project including a revolving restaurant, but the lack of listing for the pier meant there was little grant aid forthcoming. The scheme was abandoned in 2002 and the family decided to look at other options.
Mr Threadwell said: “We wanted to create something special – a new landmark for the town.”
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Some 30 different consents were needed for the project – which has cost around £3m – from nine different bodies and he paid tribute to those who have worked “tirelessly and quietly” behind the scenes.
The response to the new pier had been fantastic since it opened during the school holidays and it had been very busy.
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He added: “Our aim now is to consolidate and ensure we make a commercial success of this investment, and we will. We have created a new landmark for Felixstowe and the area and hope it can go on another 50 years.”
The honour of cutting the ribbon to open the new family entertainments centre with bowling and state-of-the-art arcade machines, bar and restaurant, was given to Mr Threadwell’s mother, Georgina.
Suffolk Coastal council leader Ray Herring said: “The completion and opening of the pier is very exciting for Felixstowe – it’s a very impressive project. Felixstowe is buzzing. We are delighted at both the private and public sector investment that is very clearly supporting the local economy with visitor numbers very much up – and we want to continue to support and encourage businesses to help bring in more tourists.”
Mayor of Felixstowe Nick Barber said he was delighted with the new pier.
He said: “It’s spectacular, and it will be good for the whole town.”