Start in sight for Queensway regeneration

Work on the £575million Queensway regeneration scheme in Southend could begin within weeks, the council has revealed as plans to fill in the underpass were approved.

Council bosses are hopeful work on the first of the 1,760 homes planned will also begin by the end of the year in a major step forward for the long-touted plans.

The first phase of the transformation of the Queensway estate will see the underpass filled in and a new four lane road created, which will eventually thread through new tower blocks.

The scheme is expected to take in the region of 10 years to be completed.

Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said he is optimistic once details are ironed out work can begin.

He said: “This is about getting the road network changed so at the moment the partnership is dealing with contractual matters in order to get that physically underway. It is progressing. In terms of formal council decisions there will be another planning application, which is currently in with the planning department which will set out the first phase of housing. That will be going to development control within the next couple of months and that will set out detailed plans for the first housing on the site.

“I think in terms of physical work on site I’m still hopeful that will be within the next month or so. In terms of the first housing we are looking towards the end of this year in terms of actually starting to build.”

Once the first new tower block is built, demolition work will start on the old, dilapidated high rises.

The filling in of the underpass has proved controversial, with many believing it will cause gridlock in busy summer months.

Conservative opposition councillors also criticised the latest planning application for details of the road scheme being approved by council officers.

However, Cllr Gilbert added: “It’s entirely usual for detailed matters around the exact methods of construction.

“It’s quite usual for this to be done by officers with delegated powers so that it’s fully in line with the constitution. This is the way this has always been dealt with.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter