Shoebury residents encouraged to invoke old covenant in a bid to halt homes plan on former playing field

Homes could be built on a former school playing field close to Shoebury’s East Beach, but a councillor is insisting an old covenant to protect the land is upheld.

Plans to build 16 houses on a playing field in George Street have come to the fore once again after the field was marked for possible residential use in Southend’s draft local plan.

The plan, includes thousands of homes off Bournes Green Chase as well as smaller plots like the field, once used by Hinguar School pupils before they moved to a new site on Shoebury Garrison in 2012.

The field on George Street forms part of East Beach, which was gifted to residents on the understanding it would be kept as public open space.

Cllr Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council said: “I encourage residents to enforce the covenant on that land.

“There is land north of Bournes Green that is designated for leisure use. We should make sure all these covenants are upheld.

“I’ve always said these should only be changed in exceptional circumstances and the only exception circumstances I would accept for overturning a covenant would be to build a new hospital.”

Former Conservative councillor Roger Hadley successfully helped fight a previous attempt to build on the land after the school move.

He said: “The council is looking at all possible sites to build houses on. In principle I have no objection to this as long as they are on brown field sites.

“This field forms part of the open space of East Beach which was left by the Knapping family on the understanding that it would remain as open space.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture, tourism and planning, insisted no decision on the land has been made.

She said: “The local plan only has sites that have been put forward but we haven’t reviewed all the responses yet

“A lot of sites have been put forward as potential sites but potential doesn’t mean they will happen. Covenants can be changed. They are not set in stone but that’s not to say that’s what’s going to happen. It’s a legal process so we will see what the outcome of the consultation is later this year.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter

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