Southend planners reject extra floor application for New Empire development site

Plans to transform a derelict site in the heart of Southend have stalled after a revised scheme to create more flats was refused.

Outline planning permission for a five storey block of 22 flats and ground floor shops on the site of the former New Empire Theatre in Alexandra Street were approved in February.

But a subsequent application for an extra floor to create a part five and part six storey block has been refused due to overdevelopment in the nearby Clifftown Conservation area.

The extra floor would have created a total of 27 flats.

The developer is said to be considering an appeal but in the meantime has called a halt to the work on the site which was also a former ABC cinema.

Mike Gray, managing director of Dedman Gray who will be managing the sale of the flats. said: “The landowner has held up moving forward on the construction of the development following the recent refusal for an additional floor.

“They are considering going to appeal on that application as the scheme is much more attractive to go ahead with with the additional floor and an extra five apartments.

“The additional apartments are quite important to the scheme as they benefit from some wonderful estuary views from the roof top position.

“The top floor is recessed from the front elevation and it does finish the block off nicely. It’s actually quite a nice feature.

“With the extra floor this could kick start the regeneration of the Alexandra Street area. It’s a nice looking scheme but it needs to be supported to go forward.”

Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal Ward said the delay to the project was “disappointing” but the decision was the right one.

He said: “There is an approved application and permission given and it is disappointing that rather than getting on with it the developer is trying to build it up yet more.

“I agree with the rejection. What was approved is the sort of the thing we want to see and just adding more floors is going to overdevelop that site. I don’t know if the developer will appeal but I just hope they will get on with building what has been approved.”

Planning officers said the proposals “contrast significantly with the scale “of surrounding buildings.

They added; “This would harm the character and appearance of the site, the street scene and the wider area.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter