Work on iconic new seafront café continues

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new seafaront cafe construction work in Felixstowe
Work underway in Felixstowe (Photos: Warren Page)

Work on a new iconic café in the heart of Felixstowe’s South Seafront is continuing thanks to exemptions to the new Covid-19 restrictions which allow construction work to continue.  

Work started on the new landmark building in August and is estimated to be completed in summer 2021, offering indoor and outdoor dining with unspoilt views of the seafront.

The ambitious project is being delivered by East Suffolk Council, Barnes Construction, the Dedham Boathouse Group, Plaice Design and Superstructures.

Work has been continuing this week with the steel frame for the new café erected using a mobile crane. Once this work is completed and the scaffolding erected, construction will progress to the next stage which is to start installing the roof.

Cllr Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment Development, said: “Despite the continuing challenges we are all facing due to coronavirus, we are grateful that the Government are permitting construction to continue. We have a huge growth programme across the district with numerous big projects we’re committed to moving forward, one of which is the café.

“This project is hugely important to Felixstowe and the local economy as not only will it provide a new eatery next to the beautiful seafront, attracting both local people and visitors, it will also support economic growth and provide new employment opportunities as we hopefully begin to emerge from the impact of Covid-19. “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.”

Chris Bruce, Pre-contracts Director at Barnes Construction said: “‘With the substructures now complete, we have reached a significant milestone in our construction programme and we look forward to seeing the building really taking shape over the next few weeks with the erection of the steel frame and formation of the roof structure.”

The development is part of a bigger project of ongoing investments in the South Seafront area, where the Martello Park has already delivered new homes, a play area and new car parking facilities. The Council has also invested in the refurbishing the two public shelters on the South Seafront and the long-term maintenance of its historic Martello, which forms the centrepiece of the park.

The £1.5 million project is funded by East Suffolk Council and the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) which was launched in 2012 to promote sustainable economic growth and jobs in coastal areas. CCF awarded the Council £950,000 grant funding which enabled the project to go ahead.  Additional funding of £30,000 was also awarded from the Coastal Revival Fund.

Nick Loomes, Director of Plaice, the architects for the scheme, said: “The Council’s vision was to create a vibrant new cafe facility which would act as a positive beacon to support and aid regeneration of this fantastic and unique location. We wanted to capture the ‘spirit’ of the place, so, the final concept takes its roof shape from a clam shell, its undulations creating a canopy, linked to the ground by a ribbon of glass. The building’s plan form arcs around the site, opening up and framing panoramic views of the bay, from the pier to the mouth of the Orwell estuary, and importantly the Napoleonic Martello Tower.”

Craig Carr from Superstructures, the structural engineer for the scheme, said: “The building is located on the seafront and therefore in effect it’s built on a beach.  Above the ground, we have to contend with high winds due to the proximity of the sea. This, together with a large open plan seating area facing the beach, means we have had to design rigid steel frames with a timber infill roof which aids the overall structural stability. All of this combined ensures the building is robust and can withstand the inclement weather that is a feature of the Suffolk coast.”