Seaway developer promotes empty seafront car park during pandemic to justify plans

The developer behind plans to redevelop a seafront car park into a major leisure attraction sent out a tweet highlighting empty parking spaces as a reason to support their plans, despite the country being told not to leave their homes.

The tweet, posted on Thursday morning, came from an account called Seaway Leisure and aimed to promote the controversial redevelopment of a car park off Lucy Road into a £50million leisure complex.

It stated that the plans would deliver so much more than the “unused parking spaces you will see at the site today”, ignoring the coronavirus outbreak which has forced almost everyone to stay home for their own safety.

“Seaway Leisure can deliver so much more value to the whole community than the rows upon rows of unused parking spaces you will see at the site today,” the post said.

It soon sparked an angry backlash from critics of the scheme, including the former chair of the Seafront Traders Association, Paul Thompson, who accused developer Turnstone of using the coronavirus crisis to push the scheme forward.

The post from Seaway Leisure was later removed and it was claimed that it had been scheduled before the crisis began and should never have been published.

This was further clarified by a spokesman for Southend Council who said: “We have been in touch and confirmed this was a scheduled tweet – we have asked them to remove further scheduled content to avoid any further insensitive tweets like this.

“Apologies for any offence caused.”

Based on the timing of the post, it is likely Turnstone aimed to have the tweet publish ahead of a full council meeting which was scheduled for Thursday evening and expected to include a debate centred on the plans.

The meeting was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Turnstone Estates was contacted but declined to comment.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter