Car parks could be target for Southend housing

A “mini-Manhattan” could be created in Southend town centre if hundreds of homes are built on a series of car parks.

If the Seaway site on Southend seafront is retained as a car park, council bosses could consider targeting other town centre car parks as development hotspots.

Councillors believe more homes in the heart of the town could revitalise the High Street.

Ron Woodley, deputy council leader, stated a number of car parks could be considered to help meet Government targets of building 23,500 homes in the borough.

He said: “In my plan put forward to officers in 2015 we could multi-storey Tylers car park and put a bus hub underneath and build homes on the existing bus station.

“We could build on Clarence Road, Alexandra Street and Warrior Square car parks.

“We also have the opportunity to build on the gas works site. We could create more than 1,000 homes. We could turn the centre of Southend into a mini-Manhattan.

“The buildings would be good quality and would have a concierge and good security.”

Cllr Woodley said the plans would help create the cultural centre in the heart of the town.

He said: “If we get people living in the town centre that creates culture and brings in businesses.

“People living there will bring in their friends and that will attract other people. That’s how you build a cultural element and independent shops in the town centre.”

The council also aims to start pressuring developers who fail to start schemes which could help the council reach its homes target.

These include Marine Plaza which gained planning permission for 282 homes in 2015, but has not begun.

Cllr Woodley said: “Prompted by the Local Government Association, of which I am a member, we do need to start insisting these developers, if they haven’t started building within a reasonable time, say two years, we will start charging council tax on the properties they said they would build.

“There is so much pressure for new homes but developers are sitting on land.

“It’s wrong.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter