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The developer behind plans to redevelop the Seaway Car Park in Southend into a major new leisure centre is appealing after councillors failed to make a decision on planning permission.
Southend Council’s deputy leader Councillor Ron Woodley claimed that Turnstone Estates is appealing to the planning inspectorate after a decision on planning permission for the £50million seafront leisure complex was deferred.
The decision was made last month when councillors voiced concerns about the number of parking spaces that would drop from the car park’s current 661 to 555.
Critics of the scheme, which took five years to reach the development committee, said the deferral meant it was “dead” because a contract between the developer and Southend Council was due to expire two days later.
But Mr Woodley said Turnstone is appealing the decision, a move which makes the future of the plans even more complex.
“All I know at this point is the legal position is being sought,” said Cllr Woodley.
“They have appealed the decision on the basis of lack of decision.
“It may be that because of that appeal we cannot cancel the contract.
“It would cause a legal minefield if the secretary of state looks at this and grants planning permission, but Southend Council has cancelled the contract.”
He added that council bosses are currently waiting for the legal team to clarify the position.
Turnstone Estates did not respond to questions seeking to clarify their position and the reasons behind the appeal.
They also failed to respond to questions about whether they would be flexible with their plans and work with the council to add more parking spaces should the planning inspectorate rule in their favour.
Whatever the outcome of the appeal, the decision on whether to extend Turnstone’s contract to build on the Lucy Road car park is likely to be a heated topic for councillors, many of whom have already said this was going to be the developer’s “last chance”.
Turnstone has been responsible for the project for six years and has already been granted two extensions.
When a decision was made to extend in February last year, it was current council leader Cllr Ian Gilbert who said he was “reluctant” to agree but the developer should have “one more chance”.