What’s happening with Bathside Bay?
In 2014 I made my first visit to Harwich and made my way over Phoenix bridge. I was welcomed by a large sign behind the security fencing announcing the development of Bathside Bay into a brand-new container port. The prospect of such a development would bring financial input and much needed employment into the area creating a welcome reversal of the towns economic decline.
Wind forward five years, no port has been built and the unwelcoming cold grey fencing is still there blighting the area and serving no purpose for the residents of Harwich. Planning permission has been extended but the reality is the container port will not be built. In July 2017 Councillor Alan Todd quoted a member of staff at Felixstowe Port saying it will not go ahead due to the cost of restoring the gantry crane.
In March this year Harwich resident Andy Mear wrote a letter to the Harwich and Manningtree Standard asking for the bay to be given back to the community, tear down the unwelcoming fencing and creating public access and walkways.
Bathside Bay is an amazing asset for Harwich and if there is no intention to develop it then it can be used to create something of benefit to the town. Harwich is in need of a boost and there are signs of improvement on the horizon. Wetherspoons, McDonalds and Costa have recently invested in Harwich, these are large businesses who do their homework and won’t invest on a whim.
New Front Door
Harwich has an enormous number of tourists and travelers passing through which could be tapped into if the cruise ships increase their visits, but we need a new front door. Presently when people depart the ferry they aren’t greeted with the best of sights and they pass through the outskirts of town and on to their destination. If we had a new front door, we might be able to harness some of those visitors to the benefit of all. Bathside Bay could be just the ticket!
Wildlife Haven & visitors Centre
The bay could be left as a wilderness. A visitor centre and walkways could be built to enhance the area and create a wildlife habitat to be enjoyed by all. Concerns about the environmental impact of a container port on wildlife have been voiced for some time. In 2003 these concerns were brought into the light by English Nature, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, Shotley residents’ group and Harwich conservation group at Kingsway Hall, Dovercourt.
In 2005 The RSPB sustained an objection to the container port project on the grounds that meeting project demands could be met in a less damaging way by using other developments rather than Bathside Bay.
Would a marina be the solution?
A marina might be the solution? It’s certainly not as intrusive or environmentally damaging as a container port. It would bring income as well as visitors to Harwich and it would preserve the sensitive nature of the landscape. A marina could work alongside a nature reserve and provide multiple benefits to Harwich by bringing much needed tourism which, in turn, would bring increased footfall to Historic Harwich.
Gift the land back to Harwich
This could be the perfect opportunity for both Harwich and Hutchison Ports to work together to the benefit of all. It would be a fantastic PR exercise for Hutchison and would put them in a more positive situation to the one they are looking at today. And why not? I’m not writing this as a finger pointing exercise to dig out HP but to suggest by working together with the good people of Harwich, Bathside Bay could be something special for all involved to be proud of.
So, what’s happening with Bathside Bay?