The future of Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion complex has taken another twist as the two formal bids on the table for consideration have both been rejected. Th hunt will now continue to find someone with viable plans for a long-term use of the Felixstowe landmark site.
The market experts, Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL), that have been employed by the Council to attract a company to take on the Spa, informed the two groups that had bid that their proposals had failed to meet the necessary criteria.
“JLL gave us their professional views on the proposals and they coincide with those of the Council that neither of these bids can be seriously considered as meeting what we were seeking for the Spa, although I would thank both groups for their time, effort and commitment,” said Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Leisure.
“Since December 2011 we have made it crystal clear that this Council cannot afford the £250,000 annual subsidy from Council Taxpayers or the near £8m that it would cost to bring the facility up to scratch.
“Sadly both these bids were based on the premise that the Council would the landlord of the Spa and so retain responsibility for all repairs and maintenance of the building. The financial risks for the Council of both sets of proposals and the relative short-term nature of them were clear to JLL and to ourselves and we had sadly had no option but to agree with the expert advice and reject them,” added Cllr Holdcroft.
JLL were called in after the Council received only one withdrawn bid by the summer to run the building. A fresh call was made anyone with viable plans to take on the Spa as a leisure and entertainments venue.
The Council has been trying to secure a long-term future for the Spa because it can no longer afford its annual cost of over £250,000, particularly as the building requires substantial investment to modernise it, and was attracting low audiences over recent years before its closure in January. The independent expert advice is it would cost an estimated £8 million for the Spa to be successful as a theatre over the next 10 years.
“We still hope that there can be a future for the Spa and we would love to hear from all those with fully costed and sustainable proposals that would add to the unique tourism and cultural offer available in Felixstowe.
“The cost of modernising the existing theatre always meant it was possible that a serious bidder would approach us with a scheme that might see the demolition of the building and something new being put in its place, and I suspect this is more likely to be what is finally proposed.
“There has been interest from others in the Spa and these may yet turn into firm proposals, but at present I intend to return to the April meeting of our Cabinet with suggestions on how the Spa can be marketed in the future so that we can be closer to reaching a decision on its future,” added Cllr Holdcroft.
The Council is looking to either offer the Spa site on a freehold sale basis or on a lease, but there is a clear view that any future use should not just be housing or offices.
Lisa Hardy who operates the “Save the Spa” Facebook group commented that they “were not ready to give up the fight” and urged supporters to join the group here»