How will the proposed new Local Area Plan affect Felixstowe?
The new Suffolk Coastal Local Area Plan is still at the "Draft" stage. IT CAN STILL BE CHANGED! The main purpose of the plan is to assign areas of land for future development (between 2019 and 2036). Once areas of land have become designated by the plan as suitable for development, it can safely be assumed that they will, at some point, be built upon.
This is what the Draft Local Plan actually says in the introduction to the Felixstowe section (3.13)
"Large scale development through a Garden Neighbourhood is proposed for Felixstowe to enable the delivery of modern leisure facilities to meet the needs of the town as well as the District and beyond. The current leisure provision at the Leisure Centre and Brackenbury Sports Centre, have reached the end of their useful life and need to be modernised. Felixstowe is the largest town in the District and has significant opportunities for future economic growth supported by the Port of Felixstowe, associated industries and tourism."
This is misleading because there is an existing budget and ongoing programme for the "delivery of modern leisure facilities" i.e. this is not at all dependent on the Garden Neighbourhood.
The current (October '18) draft plan includes several really major changes for the town. These are;
1. A major housing development - the North Felixstowe Garden Neighbourhood. This will add another 2,000 homes to the town. This is on top of the 1,600 homes that currently are already being built or have planning permission. These means that a total of 3,600 new homes are being planned for Felixstowe. We currently have around 12,000 homes so this represents about a 30% increase in the size of the population in less than 20 years. Suffolk Coastal District Council want to make Felixstowe a major growth centre.
2. A major new logistics park. The plan intends to site this on about 300 acres of farmland (Innocence Farm) that runs directly along the north side of the A14 on the approach to the town (by Trimley St Martin). Anybody coming into Felixstowe, residents and visitors alike, will have to drive right past a huge area of containers and warehouses.
3. Closure and demolition of the current leisure/sports facilities on the seafront and at Brackenbury. The council wants to build a new leisure/sports centre adjacent to the new "Garden Neighbourhood" housing estate. The Brackenbury site is to be allocated for housing.
What does this all mean for life in Felixstowe?
I'M AN ORIGINAL CATCHPHRASE
3. Leisure Facilities
This will be built in the area that is roughly enclosed by Gulpher Road. This pretty area includes The Grove woodland, the Eastward Ho football pitches and a children's playground. This is mainly high grade agricultural land and is an area much used and loved by Felixstowe residents for gentle leisure pursuits (and football!). It is also a wildlife haven and was described in a recent council sponsored report as Felixstowe's "green lung".
North Felixstowe Garden Neighbourhood
A major eyesore on the approach to the town. It will certainly leave any visitor in no doubt that they are entering an industrial area. We currently have a reasonable level of separation between the town and the port. This will disappear. This will likely have a major negative impact on tourism and the local businesses that depend upon it.
New Logistics/Container Park
This will replace the existing seafront and Brackenbury facilities. This project has a separate existing budget and is actually independent of the Local Plan (it will go ahead without the new plan and/or the Garden Neighbourhood) but, confusingly, the Council have included it in the plan.