Southend Tories call for ‘homes before roads’ in Queensway project

Tory councillors’ calls for much-needed new homes to be prioritised over the £21m road scheme in central Southend were rejected as the controversial plans were debated this week.

Southend’s Conservative councillors called for £14.5million Homes England funding to be used to start the first of the 1,700 homes planned in the Better Queensway project before the road scheme takes place.

The first phase of the work will begin with three new blocks being built to provide 218 homes on the Essex Street car park site alongside the roads project.

However, a motion for the homes to be built before the road project takes place was defeated.

Speaking at a place scrutiny meeting on Monday, Margaret Borton, Labour councillor for Victoria Ward, said: “We need to move this forward, not only for the town, but for the residents of Queensway.

“I would request the tenants who have been waiting patiently, when this comes forward, are considered first of all and that they be given the priority they deserve for the length of time they’ve been waiting.”

Daniel Nelson, Conservative councillor for Southchurch Ward, said: “What this does guarantee is the building of a road. It doesn’t guarantee a single home. It doesn’t guarantee a single breeze block in the ground. All it does is build a road.

“This scheme needs to go ahead for the good of our residents and the good of our city.”

Cllr Nelson called on the council to call on Homes England to allow the initial funding to be used solely on housing.

Despite the new Labour Government’s call for the building of new homes the Conservatives’ motion was defeated by one vote.

Ian Gilbert, Labour Southend councillor responsible for regeneration, major projects and regulatory services, said: “We can’t keep revisiting decisions that have been made, agreed and voted on endlessly, both in our role as a planning authority and a highways authority and in full council.

“What this does is give us a way to move forward with this development. To not continue to revisit the same arguments.

“This report will allow us to move forward to deliver a scheme that, already agreed many times, is achievable and in the interests of the residents in the estate and residents in the wider city.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter

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