On our architectural inheritance in Southend-on-Sea

We are blessed in many ways, those of us who reside in Southend-on-Sea. Despite the occasional ravages of bad taste development we still have a fine stock of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. The ward I am privileged to represent is especially enriched by its architectural heritage, and having five conservation areas in the ward is a testament to this.

I think we are beholden to ensure that the inheritance that we enjoy today is passed on to future generations. Whilst I do not for a moment think, or suggest, that no modernisation should be allowed, I do think we have to carefully consider if what we change will be the source of regret in the years to come.

Not everything old is good, and sometimes it is awful. But I believe that the town is enhanced by what has survived the ravages of time and the depredations of those for whom profit supplants all. I would guess that Royal Terrace is the most photographed street in Southend, a testament to old architecture and conservation ideals.

The town is a draw to tourists, and the old buildings play a role in this. From the iconic pier, to Royal Terrace, the Priory and Southchurch Hall, Porters too, and just as important are the legions of fine streets that show the town in all its glory. These not only enhance the lives of those who live here, they help the town’s economy too.

This week we have witnessed another Development Control Committee pass its judgement over a lengthy list of planning applications. In some ways this is a testament to a forward thinking town, that so much is being planned. I just hope that whilst pleasing everyone is nigh impossible, we will move forward in a way that is sympathetic to the character of a Victorian seaside resort.

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