Cllr Anne Jones has kindly agreed to read this out at Wednesday’s Development Control Committee
Form lagoon, erect single storey toilet block and associated landscaping
Owing to work commitments I am unable to attend this meeting of the Development Control Committee. I would be grateful, therefore, if you would be able to take this letter into consideration when considering the merits of the application to form a lagoon on the foreshore.
I oppose this application, and I have four reasons for doing so.
These, in précis, are that I object to any building on the foreshore as it is special and a cherished natural resource that must not be allowed to disappear. I object to the destruction of the natural environment that this application would cause. I object to see a long-standing yacht club threatened with extinction. And finally, I object to seeing Southend-on-Sea converted into a plastic version of Marbella.
Building on the foreshore: In my opinion we already have too much development on the foreshore. Every new application that is allowed makes the next one easier to make. The foreshore is special, and is enjoyed by vast numbers all year around. Its enjoyment is largely derived from unspoilt views of the beach, the Thames (and North Sea), and the estuary. Every time a structure is erected this vista is eaten into.
Natural environment: The extensive foreshore is a significant area for biodiversity being designated as international and European sites for nature conservation. The Seafront Area is not a defined area but relates to any area that has a material relationship with the Seafront. The Seafront is also an important component of Southend-on-Sea’s heritage that has defined the development and form of the town. The foreshore is Southend-on-Sea’s most valuable amenity, biodiversity and natural resource and is recognised as such by international, national and local designations.
These are not my words, although I agree with every one, but are taken from the Council’s own documents. There is not only the disturbance to the immediate area, but what affect this could, and would, have on a wider scale. I understand that sometimes we have to develop on natural areas, but surely this is a last resort measure, and only for essential schemes like houses and health facilities.
Alexandra Yacht Club: The Alexandra Yacht Club was formed in 1873. It is the fifth oldest in the UK, and the ninth oldest in the world that is still sailing today. It has 350 members, of which about 22 are cadets (youngsters under 18). Its facilities are also used by the TS Implacable (who have something like 45-60 cadets). The lagoon threatens this club’s existence as the lagoon makes the slipway which the AYC uses dangerous. The lagoon, as proposed, is a mere fifty feet from the slipway. With the prevailing south-westerly winds that are seen here it is not difficult to imagine the clubs dinghies struggling to avoid colliding with the lagoon. I am told that many members would consider it too dangerous to use.
The beaching of dinghies, necessitated by changing weather conditions, is a frequent occurrence (four or five times a year on average). This becomes very challenging, if not impossible, if there is only fifty foot of beach to use. There is a threat to life and limb if dinghies cannot remove themselves from the water safely when required.
The lagoon makes sailing dangerous for children.
Plastic Marbella: I appreciate that my tastes will not tally with everyone, but I am aghast at the tacky and tasteless drive to make this town a pale imitation of a Mediterranean resort. I have made my feelings known about palm trees, which do almost nothing for the local environment. Lagoons and palm trees are what people expect in tropical climates (which are becoming even more accessible with the success of London Southend Airport). I do not believe that visitors to the seafront expect, or want, to see anything other than a traditional English seaside resort. Besides which, most of the palm trees look decidedly sad for much of the time and attract far more derision than praise in the experience of this councillor.