Residents behind Southend Seaway plans say developers

Plans for a new cinema and restaurants have been backed by residents and will be “critical to the future of Southend”, developers have claimed.

Turnstone Estates, developers behind the Seaway leisure scheme, claim 81 per cent of residents in Southend want to see improved leisure facilities in the town.

The firm – which is set to receive £10million in taxpayer cash to get the scheme started – has conducted a survey before councillors scrutinise the plans, which include a new cinema, restaurants and a hotel, tonight.

The survey found 81 per cent of residents in Southend wanted more leisure facilities and 65 per cent wanted improved options.

Just under half of people surveyed said they go elsewhere for entertainment while 89 per cent they would stay in the borough if there were better options in Southend.

Tim Deacon, director of Turnstone, said: “We believe the transformation of the Seaway Car Park into an all-weather, all-year-round destination family leisure scheme is critical to the future of Southend, for its residents, for the local economy, for local jobs, for the regeneration of the high street, for its community. It’s time for change.

“Seaway comprises an 11 screen state of the art cinema with IMAX, 7 restaurants, 2 indoor leisure centres, 80 bed hotel, 555 public car parking spaces and high quality new public realm. Without this commitment Southend residents will continue to leave the town for leisure time.”

Roughly 74 per cent of those surveyed said they would like to see “improved outlets” in the town.

Concerns have been raised by seafront traders and members of the council that the town could be better served if the Seaway car park, on Lucy Road, remains as a car park.

However, council officers fear Southend will miss out if the plan does not go ahead.

The report to councillors said: “If Seaway doesn’t get the green light, millions of pounds of expenditure per year would be lost to the likes of Basildon, Chelmsford, London and the surrounding areas as people head out of Southend to be entertained.”

Southend Council will keep revenue from parking at the site and from rents and rates.

Concerns were raised after the council announced it would help finance the scheme because Turnstone could not find investors.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter