Exciting ideas could breathe new life into neglected seafront area
PUBLISHED: 18:22 01 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:23 01 October 2018
Government cash is being sought for a new £1million project to regenerate one of the most popular areas of Felixstowe seafront.
Community leaders and residents have been concerned for some time about how to smarten up the southern part of the resort – the area between the pier and Manning’s Amusement Park, known as the “fish and chip end” of the town.
It is often the part of the seafront where visitors head first, thanks to the amusements, Sunday market, arcades and other traditional seaside attractions.
In years gone by it was truly the focal point of the resort, when Manning’s funfair was in its heyday with the big wheel, huge rollercoaster, crazy house and helter skelter and more, with the large train on the land alongside, and the Cavendish Hotel, too.
These days the promenade gardens along the stretch have few features except their attractive Edwardian shelters and this summer were plagued by rats.
It has long been desire to smarten up the area, even more so since the millions spent on the pier and area north of the pier.
Now Suffolk Coastal District Council and Felixstowe Forward have drawn up plans for a facelift which would see the gardens transformed into a “series of rooms”, a concept which divides them into a run of very different areas with different characters and functions.
These could include a place to play, a dune garden to lounge and rest in, a place to meet, formal gardens, a play, landscape and sculpture garden for families, a ‘parklet’ picnic area, and an artisan street featuring pop-up shops and eating places, possibly housed in converted shipping containers.
Tourism chiefs say: “Each space should have a different character and function and should be exciting places to encounter, drawing pedestrians along the promenade and providing opportunity for gathering, seating, socialising and events.”
The exciting ideas are linked to plans for a new beachside cafe and exhibition space on the adjoining Martello Park, and options being examined for the Martello Tower itself.
Long-term, the Felixstowe Leisure Centre site near the pier would be redeveloped with a new attraction as its facilities move to the edge of the town.
Policymakers at Suffolk Coastal have made an initial bid for grant aid to develop their ideas from the Coastal Communities Fund. If this is successful, then a full bid for £950,000 will be made for the project.
Geoff Holdcroft, deputy council leader and cabinet member for economic development, said: “The south seafront regeneration and the potential for tourism growth have been identified in the Local Strategy for the Felixstowe Peninsula. Furthermore an Options Appraisal Report of Martello P Area identified the potential for a cultural and heritage area around Martello P, including the opportunities for the artisan business units and a quality café.
“The landscape around the area was identified as an opportunity for promoting walking and cycling. Recent tourism workshops held in Felixstowe and a recent community survey, support the regeneration programme, including cultural activities, active seafront, retail opportunities and a quality eating establishment.”
Tourism is of vital importance to the economy of Felixstowe, attracting 842,100 visitors a year, worth an estimated £55 million and supporting 10% of all employment.
The area north of the pier has already seen significant regeneration with the restoration of the Spa Gardens, reopening of the Spa Pavilion theatre, and refurbishment of the Fludyers and former Bartlet Hospital. The pier, too, has a new pierhead building, which opened last summer.
View the plans on the Felixstowe Forward website.