Seaway development “crucial” to Southend business

The £50million Seaway leisure scheme is crucial to the future success of Southend and will lead to “more time and more money” being spent in the town centre, businesses have insisted.

The scheme, to build a new Imax cinema, restaurants and a hotel on the Seaway car park off Lucy Road, has come under fire since it was announced the council would invest £10million into the scheme because it had failed to attract investors.

However, the Southend Business Partnership says the leisure complex, being planned by Turnstone Estates, will bring nothing but benefits to the town.

In a letter to councillors, the partnership said: “ There had been much previous debate over the Seaway Project however the views of a considerable more silent majority within this town are that this will bring major economic benefits to Southend and enhance its offer for its citizens and visitors, which is more important than ever now as City status is certain so there is even more reason to deliver great leisure facilities.

“It is also really important that the city has leisure facilities and delivers employment opportunities for our existing and new city centre residents and this will also mean people spend more time and money in our city centre.”

Under the new deal, the council will pay an annual rent into an annuity and keep all the revenue from the 550 parking spaces on the site, as well as rents from businesses.

Turnstone has secured an Empire Cinema,Travelodge hotel and Hollywood Bowl for the complex. Three other food outlets are currently also signing deals for units on the site.

The scheme was first proposed seven years ago and only got final planning permission in October. The partnership said to lose the scheme now would be a big loss for the town.

It said: “If this deal is terminated there will be collateral damage to potential for any future investment in our town. It is extremely unrealistic to assume that we can start again, especially now with impact of Covid, to get a supposed better deal in the current climate.

“By not terminating it potentially provides a regeneration catalyst for other investment enabling those other seafront sites that have been languishing for many, many years as blots on landscape.’

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter