The project involved a major one kilometre long park enhancement, which included surrounding streetscape improvement works.
The Suffolk seaside town of Felixstowe has a fantastic tourist trade. Attracting people from the local area and further afield, one of its greatest assets, publicly-owned Felixstowe Seafront Gardens, had fallen into disrepair. However, in 2011, Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) started a £4.8 million rejuvenation project as part of a town-wide regeneration programme with match funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Parks for People programme, in awarding the funding, placed strict criteria on the scheme, for example on measures to increase the range of audiences, the number of volunteers involved and their knowledge and skills. These measures were aimed at improving management and maintenance and the overall heritage value.
Works included encouraging ecological biodiversity and replanting the historic Edwardian planting scheme.
The regeneration project included the following works:
Restoration of two historic pavilions and water features.
Resurfacing the path network and improving access.
Installation of a heritage trail with community-generated artwork.
Interpretation panels and wayfinding to improve the legibility of the gardens.
Restoration of the historic rockwork walls.
Improving security by installing light fittings and CCTV cameras.
Rationalising street furniture and recreating historic seating.
Installing a new timber-framed shelter.
The project has also enhanced the setting of a redundant theatre, the Spa Pavilion, which sits adjacent to the gardens and reopened in November 2015. The design of the circulation space and studio hall with a lower flat roof ensures the scale is appropriate and not overbearing. The use of curtain glazing helps provide visual separation between the two main parts of the development.
“We are so pleased to see the completion of this unique project in Felixstowe. Since the gardens reopened, we’ve had a great response from local people and tourists visiting the area. We’ve already seen more people using them and the addition of lighting in the gardens means visitors are able to enjoy the gardens on winter evenings.”
TJ Haworth-Culf, Suffolk Coastal Cabinet Member for Customers (Community and Leisure)
The gardens are once again an attractive and much needed community area.
Occupying a prime site along the cliffs and complementary to the beach and sea, the gardens are enjoyed by visitors and residents of all ages – from young families playing and picnicking on the grass areas and professionals taking a lunchtime stroll, to health-conscious enthusiasts who use the network of paths and steps to improve fitness.
Also, the gardens are accessible, enabling local people with impaired mobility and elderly residents to enjoy the restored space. Tourists are also enjoying the gardens once again, with a wide range of organised holiday tours, associations and groups making frequent visits.
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