“Crying shame” of Southend’s Marine Plaza amid land banking accusations

A derelict Southend seafront site set to be transformed into a plush £100million development has been branded a disgrace and a blight on the area.

Marine Plaza was granted planning permission in 2015 but while buildings on the site have been demolished, not a brick has been laid by developers the Inner London Group.

Hoardings surround the site opposite the Kursaal, which would boast 282 apartments plus restaurants, cafes and bars overlooking the Golden Mile.

The Inner London Group has insisted “diggers will be in by Christmas”, but frustrations remain.

Carole Mulroney, councillor for planning, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace that that site is sitting there when it could be developed.

“It’s a blight on the seafront and a blight on the Kursaal. It creates an air of people not caring. I don’t want to see sites that could be developed laying derelict.

“It’s a crying shame for tourism not just housing because there were a lot of things that would have enhanced the seafront.”

Cllr Mulroney said the Government must look at tackling so called “land banking”.

She added: “Land banking has been a real problem for a number of years. Developers buy up land and have a financial interest if prices go up.

“The Government wants 300,000 houses a a year but we are doing this with one hand tied behind our back. Land that could be built on is not available.

The developer has previously blamed financial problems and Covid for delays.

If it does progress, the development will include towers of eight and twelve floors to accommodate the apartments.

Larry Fentiman, from the Inner London Group, said: “We are starting to gear up now. The hoardings are up and we will be getting the compound organized. We will start this year, within the next three months.

“We don’t have a date but but we are going to start the compound and have Portacabins for staff then we will start bringing in the diggers by Christmas.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter