Felixstowe: Trio of firms drawing up bids for seafront theatre

Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion.

Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion. - Credit: Archant

THREE new potential buyers are interested in taking on Felixstowe’s closed down seafront theatre and turning it into a tourist attraction, it was revealed today.

Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member for economic development and leisure

Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member for economic development and leisure - Credit: Archant

Meanwhile, council officers at Suffolk Coastal are to start work on a planning brief for the Spa Pavilion and its site – identifying exactly what will and will not be acceptable uses for the future.

Cabinet member for leisure and economic development, Geoff Holdcroft said: “We have three new tentative bids on the table at the moment but they are very much in the early stages of development.

“All three have some distance to travel before they can be assessed for viability and sustainability.”

The council’s specialist agents Jones Lang LaSalle, who have been marketing the venue, are negotiating with the companies, which are all understood to be national operations.

Bids received from local organisations Spa Pavilion Associates and Ambitions were both rejected because the project team felt their business plans relied on gaining funding from various grant-giving bodies and were neither stable nor viable for the long term.

The theatre was forced to close because the council withdrew its £250,000 a year subsidy.

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Cabinet members have now agreed to carry on marketing the 892-seater venue with a restriction against use for homes or offices at this stage, but to draw up a planning brief to give bidders an indication of acceptable development.

Mr Holdcroft said this would take about two months and he hoped to relaunch the marketing by the end of May.

It was far too early to contemplate demolishing the building.

Deputy council leader Andy Smith welcomed the fresh thinking and said more emphasis should be given in the marketing to Felixstowe as a whole.

He said: “Significantly more could be said about the economic vibrancy and vitality in Felixstowe at the moment and coupled with the planning brief, it would be a very positive way forward.”

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