So in a policy of ‘if you can’t beat em join em’, SCDC as a landowner has submitted its own ‘bold plan’ as part of the Local Plan Review as to what it sees as the possible new use for the land it holds in North Felixstowe, and whether as part of an ongoing wider review of housing and revamping the leisure provision on its patch it can kill a number of birds with one stone by cashing in on its land value and also redeveloping the leisure facilities it has pledged already to do.
The council owns a significant amount of land in North Felixstowe ie the sports pitches of Eastward Ho, and has submitted the proposal in its capacity as a landowner to the ‘Issues and Options Consultation’ which took place from August to the end of October 2017, as part of the Local Plan Review.
The document has now been published on Suffolk Coastal’s website, along with other comments and documents from hundreds of other respondents. These provide evidence and suggestions from landowners and other stakeholders to the Local Plan Review for the District as a whole.
As its name suggests, the main driver for the ‘Felixstowe Leisure Vision’ submission is to explore the future opportunities to provide ‘cutting-edge, modern and enhanced sports and leisure facilities to benefit Felixstowe and help grow wider economy’. Once agreed, the revised Local Plan will inform the location of new homes and infrastructure for this district until 2036.
As usual the language is couched in the idea that this is a consultation document – and that as local people we actually have a say. But as we all know from campaigns in the past – once the council has decided on a course of action it is very hard for local residents to resist the inevitable, especially in the face of greedy landowners and developers who are prepared to do anything to make a quick buck – even if it means destroying the environment.
Yes there is no doubt new houses have to be built – but there is already a huge amount of development going on in our area – and most of it does not include the affordable and council housing that is really needed. And what worries me more is that the council talk of Eastward Ho as ‘a little used area’. It is in fact widely used by youth sport teams, dog walkers and kite flyers to name but a few. Once this land is lost it is lost forever.
Shouldn’t the Council be trying to protect what little open space we have left? Surely walking, enjoying the open air and playing team sport is just as good a leisure pursuit as yet another indoor gym?
At the moment the plan is to upgrade the Leisure Centre where it is. It’s in a good central position. Move it to Eastward Ho and most people will have to drive to access the facilities and it will become yet another edge of town, soulless, concrete sprawl with the inevitable McDonalds and Krispy Cream outlets along with the gym and the pool.
I will let SCDC explain their position in their own words – but I would urge you to make your views felt as soon as possible to your local councillor if we are not to be overrun by unnecessary and unwelcome development.
The reason people want to live in Felixstowe is that it is a small, relatively unspoiled part of the coast with open spaces and countryside around. There is so much building planned already for Walton and Trimley – can the area sustain and support anymore without losing what it vital to the enjoyment and wellbeing of its residents?
One of the 10 critical success factors in our East Suffolk Business Plan is the need to provide ‘iincreased access to quality leisure, cultural facilities and activities that support and promote healthier lifestyles’.
Specifically, the Suffolk Coastal Leisure Redevelopment Programme aims to create a network of high-quality, modern leisure centres that the whole community can enjoy, with state-of-the-art equipment.
Deben Leisure Centre is the first leisure centre to receive an upgrade. Work started to improve Deben Leisure Centre in September 2017 and is set to finish in summer 2018.
Improvement work at Leiston is due to commence in 2018. Details of what work is going to be carried out at Leiston are still being finalised.
Following the Deben and Leiston projects, the provision of modern leisure facilities in Felixstowe will be addressed.
The challenges we face at Felixstowe are well documented. This is an opportunity for us to consider the re-development of existing leisure centres and facilities in a comprehensive way.
The existing leisure facilities in Felixstowe, Brackenbury Sports Centre and the Felixstowe Leisure Centre, are ageing and coming to the end of their useful life, so would need substantial investment to maintain in the future and to bring them up to the standard we require.
As such, we will explore a range of options for facilities in Felixstowe, either on the existing sites or by creating a new site, such as the development suggested in the Felixstowe Leisure Vision document.
If this option was chosen, the Brackenbury Sports Centre could potentially be developed for other uses and the Felixstowe Leisure Centre site could be used to create an exciting offering, which would complement the existing leisure and tourism offering in this prime seafront resort location.
No decisions have been made on the future leisure provision for Felixstowe. A completely separate, independent consultation programme will be run to fully explore the options and make sure we get the best leisure facilities for Felixstowe.
The Felixstowe Leisure Vision document demonstrates the potential for a multi-million pound sports and leisure development and highlights the opportunity to continue with the current re-vitalisation of Felixstowe.
However, this is just the start of a long conversation with local people about what they want and how we maximise the potential of this area.
There is already a major development planned for the area and other landowners have been actively promoting their land for possible development. So, rather than having a patchwork of ad hoc developments, Suffolk Coastal decided to be proactive in pulling together all the various strands of possible development, including that relating to our land, to create a bold vision for north Felixstowe.
Suffolk Coastal has already invested millions of pounds in revitalising Felixstowe. We believe it is vital that we continue to build on this investment to create developments that benefit local people and visitors to the area.
One of the attractions of this approach is that it offers great potential to deliver the necessary infrastructure and major benefits to current and future residents of the Felixstowe peninsula.
The masterplan contains an overview of what could happen with this area, including future state-of-the-art leisure facilities, much-needed extra homes for young people and new jobs.
We accept this is a bold vision for the future but the ideas contained within the document have been submitted as part of a wider consultation process and there is a long way to go before anything becomes a reality.
The council’s submission, which was been prepared by planning consultants Strutt & Parker and urban designers at LDA Design, will now be considered by the Local Plan Working Group.
There will also be on-going engagement with communities, local landowners, Felixstowe Town Council and other stakeholders.
The Issues and Options Consultation process is led by Suffolk Coastal as the Local Planning Authority. The next step in the process will be that there will be another round of consultation, once the council has developed its ‘Preferred Options’ for sites to be included in the Local Plan. This will be published during summer 2018.
All responses to the Issues and Options consultation can be found at: http://consult.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk/consult.ti/Issuesandoptions2017/viewCompoundDoc?docid=9052404&partid=9073300#9073300