Former Westclliff watch factory to be redeveloped into housing

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A plan to turn an old watch factory into a housing development with 20 affordable homes has been granted planning permission by Southend Council.

The plan to redevelop a vacant building on the Prince Close Industrial Estate in Westcliff into a three-storey block of flats and eight houses was discussed by councillors at a Development Control Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

Councillors agreed to grant planning permission after hearing that all the planned homes would be ‘affordable’ to help tackle the housing wait list and get people onto the housing ladder.

The plans from Estuary Housing Association promise to deliver eight two-bedroom homes priced at affordable rent, meaning 80 per cent of market value, and four two-beds that will be social rent where costs are based on housing benefit.

The other eight will include one two-bed property and seven three-bed properties sold under the shared ownership scheme.

Council officers reassured councillors that they would be able to prioritise people on the housing waitlist when allocating the homes that are available on social rent.

At the meeting Councillor David Garston (CON) said: “I think this is win, win, win and a breath of fresh air”.

Cllr Carole Mulroney (LibDem), gave it enthusiastic support calling it a “golden opportunity” that helps address the town’s urgent need for affordable and social housing.

But one councillor to oppose the plans was Conservative Councillor Fay Evans.

She said: “I can’t support this application. Although it will tick most of the boxes there should be no more flats to the west of borough until we have education and GP clinics in place.”

The former Rotary Watches building that is set to be demolished to make way for the homes has been described in a council report as “by far the largest property in the estate”.

While council officers have acknowledged it will mean the loss of employment land, they concluded in the report that the affordable homes are a “significant benefit” and that “outweigh the harm caused in relation to the loss of employment land”.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter

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