Major investments at 'incredibly exciting time' for coastal town
- Credit: Mick Howes
A range of investment projects are set to get under way in Lowestoft in 2021, with an "iconic" £126.75m bridge at the forefront of the regeneration.
After more than 100 years of waiting, it is finally all systems go for the new Gull Wing third crossing over Lake Lothing, with preparatory work starting last month on a project that is hoped to reduce traffic congestion in the town, regenerate the area and attract new investment for the local economy.
The much-needed third crossing has been hailed as "an iconic and important bridge for Lowestoft," which is being delivered by Suffolk County Council and built by Farrans Construction.
Construction of Lowestoft's long-awaited third crossing is set to begin in spring.
It will cross Lake Lothing and link Waveney Drive to Denmark Road and Peto Way, and is expected to open in the summer of 2023.
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In January the junction of Durban Road with Waveney Drive was closed for two weeks for preparatory work as trial holes for utilities were checked.
Admitting it was "an incredibly exciting time" Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: "The Gull Wing will create local jobs and apprenticeship opportunities in Lowestoft and the Waveney area."
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The £126.75m bridge was given the final seal of approval by the government in November last year.
From roads and infrastructure, right through to high street revamps, new beach facilities and digital upgrades, huge swathes of investment are set to transform the town in the coming years.
Heritage Action Zones
Lowestoft has two Heritage Action Zones – one for the north and one for the south of the town – and both will see continued activity in 2021.
A £560,000 boost for South Lowestoft last October saw the London Road Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) approved as part of a four-year programme.
In the spring this year, a cultural programme will begin that explores the history of the area and showcases the shops operating there.
With the North Lowestoft HAZ created in 2018, the five year heritage-led regeneration project is planning the return of the popular Heritage Open Days in the year ahead, with £700,000 being committed to shop front improvements in both zones.
Last month, a significant regeneration plan was approved to give Lowestoft's historic former Post Office a new lease of life.
After East Suffolk Council had bought the Grade II Listed Post Office in London Road North in 2018, plans were lodged to complete a revamp inside the building for a new commercial business, and demolish buildings at the back.
A scheme for nine new affordable homes - five town houses and four flats, as well as an extension to the listed building part itself - was unanimously given the go-ahead despite a number of concerns.
Transformation of a historic town hall site has taken significant steps forward in recent years.
The grade II listed Town Hall in Lowestoft has been vacant and unoccupied since spring 2015.
But it looks set to have a brighter future as a scheme progresses to revitalise the historic building, owned by Lowestoft Town Council (LTC), with a community focus.
In March last year it was recommended that a creative industries hub be established within the building following a Historic England-commissioned report.
Wedding ceremonies and receptions, exhibitions, craft markets, live music, conferences and events were just some of the ideas proposed as part of a £3.5m transformation of the High Street site.
And in recent weeks, an online town hall development survey has been run as the town council sought views on what the public would like to see in a "restored town hall in Lowestoft".
In July last year, a £1.6 million 40-week scheme of work started to stabilise the cliffs at the southern end of the beach and begin demolishing more than 50 of the old concrete beach huts along Jubilee Parade.
The scheme to demolish the 58 concrete beach chalets at the popular promenade on the south Lowestoft seafront and reinforce the lower cliff face at the southern end of the beach is due to be finished in the year ahead - hopefully in time for the First Light Festival in the summer.
Once the stabilisation is complete, a new platform is to be built for the new beach huts.
A new disabled access beach platform is also planned, with work currently under way on designs and ground investigation work.
In December, a scheme of emergency maintenance work was completed as part of temporary protection to the base of eroding cliffs in Pakefield.
With the temporary beach protection work carried out to help support the vulnerable cliffs, sandbags were installed in a 100m length protection at the base of the cliff and beach south of Arbor Lane in Pakefield.
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) has embarked on a £16m redevelopment creating 100 new jobs.
Work started on a new marine science centre in the summer of 2018 as new headquarters were built for Cefas at its site on Pakefield cliffs.
The major renovations were due to be completed last summer but amid the coronavirus lockdown, the works – which has seen Cefas’ current building, the former Grand Hotel, demolished and replaced with a new research centre and modern office building – were delayed.
Last year East Suffolk Council’s cabinet approved the Smart Towns pilot in Framlingham, which will be rolled out to other key towns in the district, including Lowestoft.
That scheme provides free Wi-Fi in the town centre – useful for shoppers, residents and businesses alike.
But it will also help firms in the area with features such as footfall data, information on offers available or promotional events and help businesses understand the peak times.
Work started last summer and is due to continue through 2021.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Suffolk Wildlife Trust has been busy with its new visitor centre at Carlton Marshes just outside Lowestoft.
It is due to have a formal opening this year and has been hailed as “phenomenal asset on our doorstep”.
Last month, Suffolk County Council launched a public consultation on plans for a landmark garden village adjacent to the A47 on land north of Lowestoft, within the parish of Corton.
A new primary school and pre school for 480 pupils, a retirement community and 1,300 homes are earmarked as part of the vision.