‘Largest regeneration project in Southend’s history’ moves forward as plans are submitted to council

The biggest regeneration project in Southend’s history could have planning permission by the beginning of 2021, bringing more than 1,750 new homes to the town centre.

Council bosses have celebrated the submission of a planning application for the £500 million Better Queensway regeneration project after more than seven years in development.

The plans that will completely redevelop the Queensway Estate and the surrounding area have been called transformative for residents who have spent years living in out-dated and insecure tower blocks.

Council leader Ian Gilbert said: “The Better Queensway project is the largest housing-led regeneration project in Southend’s history.

“It has significant potential to improve life for residents and transform an aging and outdated part of our town centre into a thriving and attractive neighbourhood that we can all be proud of.

“This council has made it a priority to maximise the number of genuinely affordable homes to be delivered within the project and I am pleased to confirm that, in addition to the 512 affordable homes outlined through the planning application, we are also committed to delivering an extra 100 genuinely affordable homes through a separate contractual arrangement.”

The plans have been developed by Porters Place Southend-on-Sea LLP – a joint venture between Southend Council and Swan Housing Association.

The ‘hybrid’ planning application will outline the regeneration of the site and the overall masterplan, as well as the details of the highway changes.

These highways changes will include the controversial decision to raise the Queensway underpass.

This aspect of the plan was signed off under the Conservative administration in an agreement with Swan Housing but the party has since reversed its position and now strongly objects to it.

Tory councillors claim they made the U-turn because previous design documents promised the road layout would remain unchanged and the agreement they signed did not make it clear this was not the case.

As long as the change to the underpass in included, the party says it will not support the plans.

In addition to changing the road layout, the four tower blocks that form the current Queensway estate will be completely demolished in stages and replaced with up to 1,760 new homes, all of which will have their own private outdoor space whether it be a balcony, terrace or garden.

Of those homes, 512 will be affordable, 300 social rented and 212 shared equity and shared ownership.

The council and Swan are also intending to deliver an additional 100 affordable homes through a separate contractual agreement.

Councillor Ron Woodley, deputy leader of Southend Council, called it an “exciting time” for the project and for the Queensway residents but cautioned the scale of the project mean it may be some time before planning permission can be granted.

Geoff Pearce, chairman of the Porters Place Southend-on-Sea LLP Board added: “As Southend responds to the impact of Covid-19, this regeneration will draw in circa £500million investment into the centre of Southend and help ensure a brighter future not just for the Queensway estate but also the wider communities of Southend.

“After over 12 months of consulting with residents, the local and wider community and stakeholders, Southend Council will now consider our application as the Local Planning Authority.

“We hope to receive approval in early 2021 so work can begin to transform this significant area of Southend town centre into something which truly reflects the spirit of Southend-on-Sea and can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter