Southend Council will not buy back Kursaal

Southend City Council has officially ruled out buying back a historic seafront landmark, despite councillors claiming it has become a “home for pigeons” since it closed two years ago.

The confirmation came at Thursday’s council meeting as member of the public, Andrew Brooks, challenged bosses over the dilapidated state of the much-loved Kursaal building.

Mr Brooks said: “It’s a travesty that the building that has so much potential for the local community is not being put to any use.

My recent observation is that the maintenance is not up to par. The building has a missing window and pigeons are entering.

“Does the council see the only way forward as buying back the lease from the lease holder?”

Paul Collins, councillor responsible for asset management and inward investment, replied: “In its current condition the investment required to bring it back into active use is at a scale that the council cannot afford without securing external grant funding to cover all costs.

“Recovering the lease from AEG is not the biggest issue for the Kursaal and the council will not be pursuing that course of action at this time.”

Under the terms of the lease the building must be kept in good condition and is subject to regular inspections by council officers.

Cllr Collins added: “The council has been in contact with AEG about immediate remedies to some of the main issues surrounding the Kursaal and has requested the fixes are implemented quickly.

“We expect to see progress very shortly.”

Earlier this year the council said it would not “sit idly by” while the Kursaal crumbled and took part in talks to buy back the lease but there were said to be “differing opinions” on the listed building’s worth.

Community arts group Concrete Culture was also disappointed the Kursaal restoration could not be included in the latest bid for Levelling Up funding

Cllr Collins added: “The council would like to see the Kursaal returned to its former glory. In the city centre strategy and implementation plan we’ve set out our vision for the site as a place to learn and play for people of all ages.”


Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter