Seaway leisure centre among top priorities for Southend Council in 2020

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The controversial plan to redevelop the Seaway car park into a major new leisure development in Southend is among a number of big changes the council’s deputy leader hopes to see come to fruition in 2020.

Speaking of the projects he hopes to see become a reality in Southend this year, Councillor Ron Woodley said he wants to see the Seaway leisure plans move forward, as well as work beginning on Marine Plaza and the conversion of Tyler’s Avenue Car Park into a multi-storey car park.

The £50million Seaway plans had been expected to be given planning approval in November but just 24 hours before a meeting on the plans, critics of the scheme asked the secretary of state to review them over environmental concerns forcing the council to cancel the meeting until after the review.

If it does get the greenlight, it will bring an 11-screen IMAX Empire Cinema, 20-lane Hollywood Bowl, 80-bed Travelodge Hotel, restaurants and a new public square, with 555 car parking spaces in a new multi-storey building.

The £100million Marine Plaza scheme will bring a new hotel, 282 new flats and shops opposite the Kursaal and developers are already clearing the site to make way for the development. The multi-storey Tyler’s Avenue Car Park plan was proposed in the 2019-20 budget but plans are yet to be drawn up.

Speaking of his hopes for the new year, Mr Woodley said: “I am hoping we will see the start of Marine Plaza and we want to make sure that Tyler’s Avenue becomes a multi-storey car park which will release more parking spaces for residents.

“Seaway is another priority, I want it to come through quickly depending on the decision made on planning permission by the development committee.

“These things are a must. The town cannot stand still, we need to move forward and invest and make Southend a great place to live.”

The November delay to Seaway raised questions over whether the scheme would be able to go ahead due to developer Turnstone signing a contract with the council which says they would need to have planning permission by January.

However, Mr Woodley said that while he is not certain of the legal situation tied to that contract, he believes it would be “unfair” not to extend it in light of the last-minute delay.

Tim Deacon, Director at Turnstone Estates, said: “Southend has a fantastic opportunity to start 2020 in style by setting a bright and vibrant vision for its future with the approval of our proposal.

“Seaway Leisure has the ability to deliver hundreds of jobs for residents and turbo charge the local economy by contributing £150 million to Southend by the end of the decade. That’s why the voice of town centre businesses, Southend BID, is calling for Seaway Leisure to be delivered as soon as possible so businesses can begin to cash in on the benefits our £50 million investment will bring.

“It’s time to get on with delivering the state-of-the-art year-round facilities and jobs that residents deserve. Southend’s potential cannot be held back any longer.”

Existing town centre businesses have raised repeated concerns about the impact Seaway will have on traffic, car parking and on their businesses.

The Southend Seafront Traders Association and the Stockvale Group, which runs Adventure Island and the Sea Life Centre, have both objected to the proposal.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter

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