Seafront plans set for green light

A LARGE piece of wasteland in Felixstowe is poised for a massive redevelopment with more than 150 homes and a maritime public park.Suffolk Coastal District Council officers are recommending that a scheme proposed by developers J S Bloor for 17.

By Richard Smith

A LARGE piece of wasteland in Felixstowe is poised for a massive redevelopment with more than 150 homes and a maritime public park.

Suffolk Coastal District Council officers are recommending that a scheme proposed by developers J S Bloor for 17.5 acres at the south seafront is approved.

A first application failed last year - one of the main criticisms was the number of homes, 209, was too many for the site. This has been reduced to 158 properties.


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And the fire-ravaged Herman de Stern building, which stands on the site, is now earmarked for demolition, according to a report released yesterday by council planners.

In the previous application councillors said the case for the demolition of the building had not been justified.

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Council officers say now that it would cost at least £550,000 to convert the building and that more than £40,000 is required to clear asbestos.

The building's construction and layout would make it difficult to convert economically, but planning policy states the building should be retained.

The council report said: “In support of its demolition proposals, the applicants say that all previous non-residential users left of their own volition because of difficulties with the building and the council has no further use for the building.

“They see demolition as essential if a worthwhile development is to be secured on the south seafront land site.

“Its removal would enhance the 'entrance' to the public park and create an area of public space and an opportunity for the development of a café/restaurant/bar or similar in the future.”

Suffolk Preservation Society has declined to comment until it can consider the report from the building's insurers - and it warned legal action could be taken against the council if a decision is taken before the society can comment.

The future of the Martello tower, one of five built in 1808 to guard the beach, remains controversial. English Heritage says the scheme should be redesigned to safeguard the setting of the monument and it is worried that the original military compound surrounding the tower will be lost.

Coastwatch operates from the tower and it has told the district council the four-storey housing will obstruct the view of the entrance to the Harwich Haven where minor incidents take place.

Council officers say the tower will be the focus for the central area of the park and it has been made more dominant by reducing the height and scale of the surrounding properties. At least £220,000 will be spent on the tower's refurbishment.

“Work continues, in liaison with English Heritage and the council's arts development officer, on the potential future use of the tower as a public access arts centre,'' says the report.

Felixstowe Society criticises the plans and says there are too many homes in the scheme and not enough affordable housing.

The society is unhappy about the ''monolithic and dominating'' façade of the buildings.

The Environment Agency says the existing flood defence scheme provides protection to a one-in-200 year standard although the site could flood from the direction of the estuary.

There would be 16 units of affordable housing at the northern end of the development. The amount of public car parking has been increased from 217 spaces to 262.

Nearly 60 people have objected - there was just one letter of support - and the council's development control sub committee is due to make a decision on December 8.

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