Grand vision for Yarmouth stunts local growth - claim

STEPHEN PULLINGER A grand vision for Yarmouth's Golden Mile is crippling the investment ambitions of existing businesses, the owner of a seafront site claimed last night.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

A grand vision for Yarmouth's Golden Mile is crippling the investment ambitions of existing businesses, the owner of a seafront site claimed last night.

Billy Daniels, whose family runs two crazy golf courses on the front, including popular Pirates' Cove, was responding to a letter sent to seafront tenants by the borough council.

In it, Tim Howard, head of regeneration, said his authority still wanted to find a developer for the council-owned site - stretching from Pirates' Cove to Sealife Gardens - albeit no big scheme was likely to proceed in the next two or three years.

Mr Daniels, 63, said he feared the council's hope of a multi-million pound leisure development, possibly centred on a large casino if the government gave it the go-ahead, was a "pipe dream" - and the climate of uncertainty was stopping investment.

He said: "I have been in discussion with the council since 2001 about further development on both Pirates Cove and my other site, Arnold Palmer Putting, but I have yet to receive any concrete reply.

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"The latest letter from the council makes me think, 'do I carry on investing in Yarmouth?' We have no security and could be kicked out in three years. Annual maintenance costs run to more than £10,000 and I am thinking, 'should I run things down?'".

Mr Daniels, who opened Pirates' Cove in 1995, said if the future were guaranteed he would be prepared to commit himself to a six-figure investment, revamping the Arnold Palmer site, possibly on a Yarmouth historical theme, and making further improvements to Pirates Cove, which already attracted fans from all over the Eastern counties.

He said: "It is my personal view we have been put on the backburner while the council tries to find a major developer. Businesses already here are willing to invest and they should be listened to if nothing else."

Peter Waring, managing director of Amazonia, the seafront reptiles attraction, echoed Mr Daniels' concern that investment was being discouraged through uncertainty.

He said when the council had first unveiled its vision for the Golden Mile, he had submitted his own plans, involving a substantial investment, to expand Amazonia into "something that resembles a reptile version of the seafront centre".

Mr Waring said it was disappointing the council had decided to negotiate with major players to start with, rather than including potential small-er developers in their discussions.

Mr Howard said the council would now be returning to developers who had submitted proposals for the site - which includes the Marina leisure centre - and asking them to put flesh on the bones of their schemes.

He stressed they were happy to listen to ideas from small developers as well as major players, but said it was im-possible to give guarantees of security to existing businesses at this stage.

"If there is an opportunity to attract a £50m development it would be negligent not to explore it," he said.

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