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Waveney Campus rumpus

PUBLISHED: 08:44 24 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:41 06 July 2010

ONE of the most ambitious projects the east coast has seen in years - the multimillion pound Waveney Campus to house hundreds of council and science workers in Lowestoft - has suddenly been scrapped.

ONE of the most ambitious projects the east coast has seen in years - the multimillion pound Waveney Campus to house hundreds of council and science workers in Lowestoft - has suddenly been scrapped.

Plans for the campus, which was to be built on the banks of Lake Lothing, fell through with the partners citing “challenging economic conditions” as the reason behind the decision.

The building was going to become home to workers from Waveney District Council, Suffolk County Council and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).

Now Cefas, which employs about 400 people, is urgently considering the options for its future in the town, including the possibility of building a smaller-scale development on the site of the planned campus on Riverside Road or investing in the existing laboratories on Kensington Road.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard has slammed Waveney District Council for spending £1.3m on the project, which will now never see the light of day.

Mr Blizzard said: “The tragedy is that Waveney taxpayers have paid £1.3m for this and there's absolutely nothing to show for it.

“The spectacle of spending the best part of £60m on new offices while people are hard-pressed and trying to protect frontline services was really never going to be accepted by the council taxpayers.

“I have never really detected much public support for what was fundamentally going to be some fancy office buildings.”

However, Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council, accused the MP of making political point scoring and not supporting the people of Lowestoft.

“Cefas are a body of DEFRA, one of the MP's own Government's departments. They are in desperate need of new accommodation and the intention throughout was to build something which would provide them with the scientific facilities they needed; keeping 400 jobs in Lowestoft.

“Not only that, but this flagship project was a key driver for regeneration in a neglected part of the town, and was designed to stimulate the economy and create yet more jobs. It was to be designed in such a way that ongoing maintenance costs would be drastically reduced, effectively enabling the building to recoup initial spending and all but 'pay for itself'. How is any of that a bad thing?” he said.

The three partner organisations announced on Friday that the project had been scrapped and it is believed that both councils are now looking for alternative accommodation in Lowestoft.

Urgent action is now being taken to find an alternative for Cefas in a bid to keep the prestigious science laboratories, and the highly-skilled jobs they offer, in town.

A spokesman for the campus project said: “We have all worked hard to make our partnership work but economic conditions have conspired against us. We are very pleased Cefas is considering its options here in Lowestoft.

“We all agree that building a Cefas facility at Riverside Road, albeit on a smaller scale, capitalises on the investment that has already been made and supports regeneration in the area.”


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