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Park 'on course' to open next summer

PUBLISHED: 10:24 25 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:52 05 July 2010

Waveney council bosses have insisted a £4.5m seafront caravan park is still on course to open next summer in Lowestoft, despite delays to the start of work and an ongoing protest.

Waveney council bosses have insisted a £4.5m seafront caravan park is still on course to open next summer in Lowestoft, despite delays to the start of work and an ongoing protest.

Work has yet to start on redeveloping the rundown North Denes site, even though it was in June that a leading holiday firm revealed it had agreed to spend £1.5m on a 99-year lease and a further £3m on building the park.

Further questions about the viability of the controversial project were raised when a route through the site was given official public footpath status.

However, a spokesman for Waveney District Council revealed: “There is no threat whatsoever to the viability of the site and initial work will commence in due course.

“It remains the ambition of Park Holidays to open on site next summer. Work has been delayed slightly because of a desire on both sides to iron out some contractual formalities.

“Waveney District Council believes that the people of Lowestoft want an iconic, landmark site for tourism, providing jobs and income for the town. This is a wonderful regeneration project, which remains firmly on track.”

The future of the North Denes site has been embroiled in controversy for several years after Waveney District Council said it could no longer afford to run a caravan site there.

The Protect Our North Denes Association (Ponda) claimed the site should remain in public ownership because it had been used by the people of Lowestoft for many years.

Waveney council spent about £400,000 on legal fees to fight challenges to its decision to sell the lease for the site and insisted bringing in a private operator was the only way to regenerate the area.

However, wealthy businessman Mervyn Lambert, who has bankrolled Ponda's fight, has claimed the fact a public footpath has now been officially recognised means the site should remain in public hands.

He also revealed that further applications for more footpaths at the site had been submitted and that Ponda was complaining to the local government ombudsman over the way the council has disposed of the land.

However, the council spokesman said: “Waveney District Council has always said that the footpath in question would remain accessible to the public and we have merely confirmed that detail.”

He described Mr Lambert's comments as “an unhelpful distraction” and insisted that officers had taken part in constructive discussions with Ponda about the future of the site.

Mr Lambert said: “It is time to stop all the wasting of public money and give it [the site] back to the people. It has become absolutely ridiculous. It has now been five years and hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent.”

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