Former Southend care home to be turned into flats despite residents’ concerns

Plans to transform a run-down former care home in Southend into 18 apartments have been approved despite fears over antisocial behaviour.

Southend City Council’s development control committee gave the go ahead for Melrose House care home in Alexandra Road, Southend into a block of eight flats and a block of ten Airbnb-type one bedroom apartments.

The care home, an amalgamation of three properties, will have links between the buildings removed and rear extensions will be built on the site in the Clifftown Conservation Area.

A previous application in 2023 was refused over concerns, including the loss of historic features and parking issues but planning officers recommended approval of the latest scheme after these were addressed.

The council received 55 representations from residents along with a 126-signature petition against the scheme.

Resident, Mr Moroney whose home overlooks the nearby bowling green and Prittlewell Square, said there were fears the “visitor” accommodation would become bedsits in an area already affected by antisocial behaviour.

Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting, he said: “If the plans are approved, I predict over time Prittlewell Square will become much like the bowling green and eventually people who enjoy the square for what it is will start to avoid it and it will become a no go zone, another drink and drugs den.

“An 18-unit HMO in such close proximity to Prittlewell Square and the bowling green is not going to do anything to alleviate these issues. If anything it is only going to exacerbate them and make them worse for the local community, not better.”

In response, developer Michael Woolley, director of TWL Property Developments 1 Ltd said: “It isn’t an HMO. The proposal is for eight luxury apartments. You then have ten serviced accommodation apartments, all of which are completely self-contained and would attract local residents, tourists and business travellers aiding in the town’s vitality and supporting local businesses.

“I can assure any residents no HMO will take place. It’s not in our interest to do so.”

Ron Woodley, Residents First councillor for Thorpe Ward said he was concerned over the loss of a care home.

However Lib Dem councillor Carole Mulroney said: “The care home has quite clearly been shown to be inadequate and in a way, unnecessary. What would we do have this sitting there for five years not used purely because there might be a need in the future.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter