Skyscrapers up to 27-storeys high could be built in Southend town centre to help the town meet its target for building homes, a leading councillor believes.
The government has ordered Southend Council to build 23,500 homes over the next 20 years, including on green belt land if necessary.
Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, believes all other alternatives must be looked at before precious open space is lost forever, including huge tower blocks in the heart of Southend.
The town is already set to see tower blocks up to 18-storeys built in the £575million Queensway regeneration project, which will deliver 1,760 homes – but this will barely make a dent in the number of homes needed.
In a newsletter to Burges Estates Residents’ Association members, Cllr Woodley said: “To preserve as much green belt land as possible, I believe there should be provision put in place for increasing density and building heights within the town. We seem to have a limit on building height of no more than 16-18 stories at the moment.
“We should look to increase the height of buildings within the town centre area. This will not result in family homes being created but still meet the required number of homes, all be it flats. This will add to the housing stock within the borough.”
Cllr Woodley last week proposed blocks of flats on the Alexandra Street, Clarence Road and Warrior Square car parks.
He added: “They should be one-and-a-half times the height of the Queensway blocks so 25 to 27 storeys. This is where where we need to look at building the multi-storey in Tylers Avenue so we can build on the car parks. People in high rise apartments will bring in their friends. If people are living there people will come and visit then we can have a cultural area in the town.”
If it goes a ahead the scheme will mirror Basildon town centre where 4,000 flats in towers up to 20 storeys have been proposed.
Mike Smith, former secretary of the Queensway Residents’ Association, said: “We’ve already got a lot of high living in the centre of the town. I can’t seem any benefit from building more blocks. People will be prevented from owning cars because there will be nowhere to park them. I don’t own a car but I would like the option of having a car if I needed it.
“What sort of life would kids have in these blocks? It’s alright for single people but it’s hard if you have a few kids and are living on the tenth floor. What we really need is more family homes with gardens.
“We’re reaching saturation point in this part of town. If you want to live in a place with that sort of environment you might as well live in London.”