Felixstowe has suffered from a declining tourist economy. In 2006 a strategic plan recommended that the town recognised its heritage assets and ‘pursues a strategy of promoting its strengths as a traditional British resort, set in a fine Edwardian built environment’.
A key site in the strategy was the gardens, which were in a state of dilapidation with many elements comprising complex and often unstable assemblages.
The client followed the democratic mandate of the local communities’ overwhelming support for the gardens project and focussed the economic regeneration of the town on conserving and restoring its heritage assets. The design team advised the client, and the client accepted, that the designer should have a part-time presence on the site, to allow it to resolve complex construction issues rapidly. The gardens now comprise a series of interconnected spaces, rockwork and water features which together with ornamental planting, impart great diversity of visual interest.
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Suffolk Coastal District Council supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF
|Type of scheme||
Heritage and conservation
Parks and gardens
Highly commended LI Awards 2016
Mott MacDonald was commissioned to provide full design services as designer through a New Engineering Contract (NEC) Professional Services Contract from Artas-ua.info Institute’s work Stage E (technical design / detailed proposals) to stage L (completion and establishment).
Our work was led by the landscape architecture team with other team members from Mott MacDonald providing civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, architecture, ecology and Construction, Design and Management (CDM) services. We also provided contractual support to the project team through our in-house NEC contract expert. During the construction period Mott MacDonald provided site monitoring as NEC Supervisor.
Our work built upon an initial strategic study for the town by David Lock Associates, which identified the gardens as the principal focus for future regeneration investment. A round one and two heritage application for the gardens site was assembled by Lanarca, which took the project to Artas-ua.info Institute' s work Stage D (design development/ sketch).
Mott MacDonald’s work included revisiting some aspects of the sketch scheme design and working closely with the Local Authority conservation officer, the HLF, English Heritage (now Historic England), the general public and the town’s regeneration body, Felixstowe Forward.
Artas-ua.info practice: Mott MacDonald; client: Suffolk Coastal District Council supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF); employer’s agent: Concertus Property Consultants; project manager: Castons; cost consultant: Gleeds; artist: Valerie Osment; HLF application consultant: Lanarca; community liaison: Felixstowe Forward; Felixstowe strategic masterplan: David Lock Associates; principal contractor: Breheny Civil Engineer
Felixstowe Seafront Gardens developed as a result of the popularity in the late Victorian period for visiting coastal locations in pursuit of improved health and relaxation. The natural springs occurring along the cliffs, together with the proximity to the beach, encouraged the gardens to be developed as a pleasure ground for people to use the spa waters. The gardens allowed visitors to promenade next to the sea, to enjoy the fresh air and to take the reputed health giving qualities of the Felixstowe Spa water. The gardens are of significant historic interest. They display a cross-section of over 100 years of municipal and private gardening trends, which illustrate Felixstowe’s history as an east coast resort of late Victorian, Edwardian and inter-war character. This has been acknowledged through their status as a Grade II Registered Garden of Special Historic Interest, designated by English Heritage.
The gardens now comprise a series of interconnected spaces, rockwork and water features which together with ornamental planting, impart great diversity of visual interest. They were not developed holistically as one park, but rather were brought together by the municipality to form the extent of the gardens seen today. Many of the structures within the gardens formed part of private properties which were later incorporated as municipal land. In addition to the cultural heritage of the gardens, the location is geologically significant at a county level for outcropping areas of Red Crag and provides a variety of natural habitats for wildlife.