Conservation area plan set to go ahead for Southend’s “second high street”

Plans to turn part of Southend’s “second high street” into a conservation area are set to go ahead.

Southend Council narrowly voted to create a new conservation area in Hamlet Court Road, south of London Road.

The southern end of the road will not be included, against the wishes of local experts and those who took part in a public consultation, the majority of whom wished the whole road to be included.

Speaking at a council meeting on Thursday, Dan Nelson, Conservative councillor for Southchurch ward, said: “If there are significantly historic buildings in an area that means that area is historically significant and as such it should be worthy in its own right to be part of a conservation area.

“I’m sure we’ve all walked around Hamlet Court Road and we can all look down that road and we can see how much historical architecture is down there. Local experts who spend a lot of time researching our local area are really pushing this area to be in the conservation zone but Historic England are saying no.”

Cllr Nelson added: “Historic England I’m sure have wonderful catalogues and wonderful historians but they are not experts in Southend-on-Sea. They are definitely not experts in Westcliff-on-Sea and I think we should be taking and bearing in mind the comments of our local experts.

“I also think it’s a downright waste of money to go out to a consultation and then ignore the results.”

Some buildings in the southern section of the road may at some point become locally listed, but no evidence was forthcoming during the conservation that any of the buildings were worthy of being part of the new conservation area.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said including such buildings could prevent them from being improved in the future. He said: “I think it should be obvious to everybody that Cllr Mulroney, our officers and everybody working on this has given this issue a tremendous amount of thought and consideration and does anybody really feel that Cllr Mulroney or anybody else involved in the process is operating with some vendetta or some malign intent for the southern part of Hamlet Court Road?

“Conservation areas introduce new burdens on businesses, on residents. You are actually imposing new burdens on anybody who wants to come along take one of these buildings which we all would miss but the majority are not of great architectural value and would actually improve them.

“We’re liable to get challenged on that time and time again if we seek to apply rules on a conservation designation that’s been made against the advice of experts and the Government’s own advisors.”

Councillors voted 25 for and 21 against implementing the conservation area.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter

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