Group calls for new conservation area on Westcliff seafront

Westcliff’s sweeping cliffs and beaches should be protected as part of a conservation area, according to a community group.

The Milton Society wants to see another area added to the list of 15 Southend conservation areas, to take in Cliff Gardens and the beaches from Chalkwell to the pier.

The society is asking the council for support to extend the Crowstone Conservation Area, reshaping the boundary to include the historic Crowstone boundary marker.

The area currently consists of Crowstone House and the Leas area of Westcliff, but the society believes the 185-year-old Crowstone, which stands proudly on Chalkwell Beach and was granted Grade II listed status in 2021, should be included.

The group has also applied to Historic England for the listing of Southend Cliff Gardens on the Register of Parks and Gardens.

Conservation areas are normally created to protect buildings of historic importance from inappropriate development but the society urges that “major steps are taken” to protect the heritage of the seafront at Westcliff.

Andy Atkinson, chairman of the society, said: “It’s interesting that these seafront areas are all designated in Brighton, the UK’s only other seaside resort city. As it is our seafront that defines our city we should be taking more care to recognise the importance of these areas.

“These designations would not only help to protect these most important parts of our city but would assist funding bids and, moreover, would be a major celebration of our newly found city status for our seaside heritage, our visitor economy and our national profile.”

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture and tourism, said: “This has been discussed at a working party fairly recently and we said we would look into it. We are getting assessments done via our consultants who did all the other conservation areas but I’m not going to pre-empt what they come back with.

“A conservation area tends to be a built up area and Cliff Gardens is not what we would call a built up area. There are other ways of looking after gardens through other procedures.

“This is really early stages. They’ve only just submitted it and our officers are looking at it but we have already spoken to our consultants to give an assessment of the area that they are talking about.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter