For some time the grass land just past the Leisure Centre on the South seafront has been a bit neglected – and the installation of the ‘trim trail’ didn’t really improve things – being as it was a rather half hearted attempt at an outside gym.
There has also been increasing concern at the falling levels of the beach which has prevented beach huts being repositioned off the prom for a couple of years. And of course has meant the installation of no new huts could be considered.
Now East Suffolk Council have released new plans looking to improve both the grassed area and the beach hut provision, and has launched a public consultation to enable local people to view and comment on proposals for a new ‘beach village’ on the South Seafront.
Proposed improvements include:
- relocating and revamping the Trim Trail within a new Activity Park close to the Beach Village opposite Buregate Road
- re-landscaping the site to make it a more welcoming space
- adding further facilities in the Activity Park, offering more opportunities for exercise and physical activities to improve physical and mental wellbeing
- providing a well-managed area where people can come together to enjoy the outdoor space.
- new, fully accessible public conveniences on the Prom
- better facilities for local residents and tourists alike
According to East Suffolk Council the objective of the new site is to ‘create a development built to a high specification with enhanced accessibility, so that it is level or has ramp access from Sea Road and the Prom, protection from beach material, and low maintenance landscaping’.
The proposals include 5 accessible, purpose-built ‘pods’, 25 tradition huts and a new public convenience block with ‘Changing Places’ facilities ie they are larger, modular, and are designed to be accessible to all.
The existing trim trial will be moved to the current volleyball site, which will be re-landscaped and made into an activity park. As part of this, the existing equipment will be upgraded and additional facilities installed, including concrete table tennis tables, a petanque piste, accessible picnic benches, chess tables and outdoor space for workouts.
So what are these Pods?
The focus of the site will be a single storey accessible hut constructed from SIPS (self-insulating panels) that can be split into smaller rooms or pods. The inside of each pod would be an adaptable, flexible space with a connecting partition wall which could be removed, expanding the individual pods into two pods of two or one large unit consisting of all five separate pods into one space. These features will provide the opportunity to create a space which can be hired by groups, families or, potentially, to be used as a beach classroom or seaside venue. Power and running water would be installed in the pods.
And what about the new huts?
Over the remaining area of the site, it is proposed that there will be 25 traditional beach huts located in landscaped surroundings. These will be a standard size but will feature wider doorways and lower transitions into the huts. They will be privately owned.
The existing hedge between the Prom and the site will be removed to open up the space and encourage use, with the current ornamental wall being modernised.
The whole project is budgeted to cost £993,000. The scheme will be funded from retained business rates, existing capital budgets and some external funding. Then selling the new huts would generate a capital receipt of £392,000 and a net annual income from licences of £11,197 plus the income from pod hire of £28,875.
A tie-up with the town council is also to be agreed so that the town council will oversee day-to-day maintenance while the district council will organise the booking of the pods and larger maintenance.
The aim of the project is to create accessible facilities that enables families and groups to enjoy everything the beach and town has to offer by hiring a beach ‘pod’ for a day, or longer, as well as improving facilities for local people and visitors alike with the addition of new public conveniences and an activity park.
This may seem an odd development at this time – given the plans to move the leisure centre out of town – and you may feel that the council will carry on with the project regardless of what comments are forthcoming.
Nevertheless ESC have said they want to hear your views on the plans. They would also like to hear any ideas you may have for a name for this area (apparently they have already thought of and discarded ‘Beachy McBeach Face’).
Due to the continuing challenges of Covid-19, the consultation will be taking place online from now until 5pm on 12 March 2021, during which time people can view the proposed plans at www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/visitors/beach-huts-and-chalets/felixstowe-beach-village-consultation/
You can then submit your response by contacting the leisure team here:
Or phone 01394 444210 to discuss accessing the plans by other means or to give your views.
The closing date for responses is 12 March 2021
Cllr Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development said: “Like towns across the country, Felixstowe has struggled during the pandemic with more people staying at home and less visitors to the town. However, we’re confident that we have a bright future ahead and we’re committed to increasing the tourism opportunities and facilities in Felixstowe to attract both local people and visitors, supporting economic growth and providing new employment opportunities.
“The South Seafront has undergone significant redevelopment in recent years and East Suffolk Council has invested a lot in revitalising the area. We believe it is vital that we continue to build on this investment and create developments that benefits local businesses and people as well as visitors to the area.”