More homes could impact on air quality claims senior Southend planner

Southend’s air quality could be impacted by the need for more homes unless people stop using cars, it is feared.

Southend has two “air quality management areas” but concerns have been raised that building thousands of homes will have a negative impact.

The issue was highlighted in a recent public consultation meeting on Southend’s local plan, which includes building 23,500 homes over the next 20 years.

Speaking at the online meeting Claire Victory, senior planner at Southend Council, said: “Air quality is an issue in Southend. We’ve got one air quality management area along Prince Avenue by Cuckoo Corner and the Bell and we’ve got another one that’s round by the Blue Boar and the West Road/East Street junction.

“There are issues of air quality in the town but the less people that use a car then that has an impact on air quality. We’re not going to get every single person out of their car but this is a 20-year plan and we’ve got to think about climate change as well so we’ve got to think about promoting alternatives to private cars.”

The council conducted a consultation on ways to improve air quality across the borough.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “The council declared an Air Quality Management Area in December 2020 along part of Victoria Avenue close to the junctions of Fairfax Drive / Priory Crescent and  West Street / East Street.

“In response the council prepared a new Air Quality Action Plan 2021-2025 to improve air quality across the whole borough and the plan has now completed formal consultation and is due for cabinet in November.”

Cllr Mulroney added: “The council is constantly monitoring air pollution and we use this information to help inform road transport improvements and major infrastructure projects such as the A127 Kent Elms scheme, which ultimately help to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

“Recent completion of The Bell junction, along with other measures, should also contribute to improving air quality. We are determined to be at the forefront in improving air quality to protect our residents.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter