Felixstowe Forward hosted their annual look at progress and plans for Felixstowe on Friday 6th July– and there are some big proposals in the pipeline. And whether your view is unmitigated horror at the changes proposed or welcome relief that development is planned, it is important you put your views across now – as the speakers stressed continually that these plans are not written in stone and will be subject to change.
Attended by an invited audience of business, leisure, volunteer and art based people – Helen Greengrass of Felixstowe Forward, SCDC councillors and private consultants outlined the future plans they have for three main areas in the town.
The first is to introduce a Business Improvement District or BID for the town centre – which involves a mandatory levy from all businesses in the area involved which is then reinvested in that area for the benefit of the town centre – or that is the theory anyway. My own experience of the BID in Ipswich – one of the first in the country to take it on – was that it was yet another financial burden the businesses could ill afford, and very little was seen in improvements or outcome. But there are now over 300 of these across the country – so maybe the way they are administered has improved.
The second proposal concerns the Leisure Centre and Brackenbury. There is a six year process underway to improve all the SCDC leisure facilities. Deben in Woodbridge has just been finished and Leiston is about to start. But these are basically revamps. The powers that be have decided that the Felixstowe leisure centre building is past its sell by date and needs to be demolished come what may. It is also too expensive to manage two buildings for one town. Consultants have suggested the need for a bigger pool and to combine the facilities of both the leisure centre and Brackenbury, plus adequate car parking, means that a new centre cannot be built on the current site. So their proposal is rebuilding either at Eastward Ho or on a site opposite the Academy in Walton. The current site would then be used for some sort of alternative leisure facility.
The third proposal concerns the south seafront area. The main suggestion is to build an iconic restaurant/cafe on the land fronting Orford Rd and then having some sort of boardwalk that links the Martello site with the sea front gardens which could be re vamped in some way. There would also be some sort of transformation of Sea Rd – maybe making it shared use like Hamilton Rd. These proposals were exceptionally vague but the general consensus was that this area needs something doing to it and that it needed better links with the rest of the seafront.
Its important now for local people to make their views known on these proposals. My own view is that the town would be better served by moving the leisure centre to Martello park where there is already a large underused car park and land standing idle. This would also bring visitors into the town and utilise this area. To build it on land that is in an AONB or on the road leading into the town will not bring visitors into the town centre or make it very accessible to current residents.
It is also important that the land opposite the pier is not paved over and made into yet another car park. And that Brackenbury is given to the community as an arts hub rather than allowed to be developed with more luxury housing.
Have your say by contacting Helen Greengrass at Felixstowe Forward. Letters can be addressed to her at the Town Hall. Her e mail address is Helen.Greengrass@eastsuffolk.gov.uk