Burger King for old biscuit factory site

The Coopers Building in Lowestoft about to be demolished. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

The Coopers Building in Lowestoft about to be demolished. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH - Credit: Archant

For some, the demolition of a historic former biscuit factory which fed our hungry seamen is a loss to a coastal town's heritage – whereas others believe it will revive an area which has long been in need of regeneration.

But as Burger King's plans for a new drive-through restaurant at the old Coopers Building in Lowestoft were approved this week, there was definitely a sense of out with the old and in with the new.

The unanimous decision by Waveney District Council's planning committee on Tuesday (October 11) means 24 new jobs will be created on the site, with the authority saying it will 'kick start the regeneration of an area which will bring customers and, in time, further businesses to the north end of town'.

However the decision caused concern among some heritage campaigners, as the building dates back to the 1800s and was the place where long-life sea biscuits were manufactured up until the 1960s, to provide long-life food for seafarers on their voyages.

Waveney District Council leader Colin Law said the development 'balances the importance of regeneration with the careful consideration we always seek to give to heritage assets', as a historic wall which was part of the Coopers Building will be retained.

However when the demolition of the building was given the go-ahead last month, Fiona Cairns – director of the Suffolk Preservation Society – called it a 'bad decision, straight out of the 1960s, a decade which saw the wanton and wholesale destruction of so many historic buildings'.

John Stannard, chairman of the Lowestoft Civic Society, added: 'The application should never have been made and the council should have pursued a scheme that respected the surviving heritage on the site and incorporated the building in the proposed redevelopment.'

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Mr Law said: 'We made a clear undertaking when the council vacated this part of town that the site would not be abandoned or neglected.

'We also expressed our determination to ensure that any future development would benefit the town and the local economy.

'The retention of part of the Coopers Building recognises this and ensures we get the balance just right.'

Waveney District Council vacated the town hall site in 2015 as part of a £13 million accommodation programme which has seen the creation of a new administrative building in Riverside Road and the refurbishment, with Suffolk County Council, of the Marina Customer Services Centre.

What do you think? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email lowestoft.journal@archant.co.uk