Tracks no more

Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea

Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea

I am pleased to note that the long-standing eyesore that was Tracks has been bought and looks like it will be an eyesore no more. It was not just an eyesore, it was also a home for vermin, a magnet for the homeless, and the subject of much grumbling from its neighbours.

I am not able to claim the credit for this undoubted improvement, not all of it anyway. But I have been vocal in my condemnation of its dilapidated state, and have sought, and achieved, council officer intervention on several occasions.

So, I do claim a little credit. I believe that my prodding has encouraged about change, even if only to wake up the previous owners to the reality of this (former) blight on the community.

Those dancing pigeons will now have to seek a new home.

Some may wish to object to this ……

In this week’s planning application list:

APPLN. NO: 15/00155/FULM

Officer: Charlotte Galforg Date Valid. 6 March 2015

DEMOLISH EXISTING BUILDING, ERECT 5 STOREY BUILDING COMPRISING 24 SELF CONTAINED FLATS WITH GROUND FLOOR RESTAURANT AND BASEMENT PARKING, LAYOUT AMENITY AREA, REFUSE AND CYCLE STORAGE AND LANDSCAPING, FORM NEW VEHICULAR ACCESS ONTO WESTERN ESPLANADE.

THE ESPLANADE WESTERN ESPLANADE SOUTHEND ON SEA

Yet another scheme that looks like it fails actual housing need

redabMy inbox received this piece of advertising, and an email which contained the following:

My company represents Redab which recently acquired the Esplanade Site on the seafront. Redab will soon be applying for planning permission to build new apartments and a restaurant on the site and if approved, will come with a host of energy saving, environment friendly green credentials.

Because there is considerable interest from the media in this scheme we felt that, out of courtesy, you should be aware of what is being proposed before reading about it in the local Echo so I hope you will not mind being contacted directly with this information.

You should also be aware that we are currently talking to Metal about the possibility of using the white wall area of the proposed building for an artwork, should planning permission be granted.

I responded with a simple question: How many of the units will provide low-cost and affordable housing, and how many will be set aside for social housing?

This elicited the following response:

Because of the nature of this particular site, which as you are aware is very prone to cliff slippage, we have not been able to make any provision for social housing.

We have calculated that some £1.25M of our budget will be needed to secure the adjacent cliff area which is owned by the council. While these savings will obviously benefit the whole community who enjoy and use the seafront it sadly leaves no budget for anything else.

However, we hope this will enable the local authority to use those savings where it is needed most.

One could argue that the slippage has already been sorted, although I do not doubt further work may be needed. I can definitely argue that the housing shortage locally is not likely to be addressed by this scheme.

How areas of Southend-on-Sea compare as regards to average sales values

CIL1This map is reproduced from the Community Infrastructure Levy: Viability Study Prepared for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council (May 2014).

It shows the average sales values in Southend-on-Sea. The data is described as “based on research on the local housing market and data from other identified sources”.

Whilst the figures have doubtless moved on in the seven months since this was produced, it is useful in illustrating how different areas of the borough compare.

Area Ave values £s

Two simultaneous developments along the seafront

I was asked to write a brief comment about the two developments proposed for areas very close to the seafont in Southend-on-Sea – namely the proposals for the Marine Plaza and the Seaway Car Park. Here is what I wrote, and this appears in today’s Southend Echo.

Notwithstanding my concerns over whether the Seaway Car Park is the right place for the proposed development, the simple answer as to whether a development here and at the Marine Plaza undertaken at the same time is a good idea comes down to a matter of timing.

Doing both developments at the same time does have the benefit of getting all the disruption out of the way all in one go. Whilst it could be argued that this maximises the pain and disruption whilst the works are being undertaken, the closeness of the two projects may also mean that some of the local improvements that will doubtless be required may be able to be shared.

Doing the work during the quiet periods of late autumn and winter should cause minimal interference to both trade and the lives of residents. However, if the works overspill into the local high season then this has the potential to be disastrous for those businesses reliant on the increased footfall that occurs when the sun is out. This is why the timetable is so important.

There are questions, though, that need to be answered about the road infrastructure in the vicinity, and whether it can cope with the extra traffic both whilst the sites are being developed, and once they are up and running. There are a number of bottlenecks that already see congestion at busy times; this is why the site of the Seaway development is so questionable. Whilst I welcome anything that brings extra jobs and housing to the town, I cannot help but wonder why this is being squeezed into an already crowded and busy area – surely a site adjacent to the A127 and Eastern Avenue corridor would not only be more accessible, but also not add to the overcrowding seen in the town centre wards.

UKIP Parliamentary candidate is rude about a resident, and refuses to retract comments

Councillors do not always agree with their residents. However, until this week I have not heard a councillor publicly describe a resident as “nosey” , “interfering“, and “a complainer“.

Cllr Floyd Waterworth’s (UKIP, Blenheim Park) outburst at Development Control Committee was challenged by Labour members present, and he declined their offer to retract what he said.

Thus, it appears that UKIP Parliamentary candidates see it as acceptable to be rude about residents in a public forum.

As one councillor later commented: “Don’t go to UKIP if you have problem neighbours! Don’t bother with UKIP if your neighbour is in breach of planning rules.

Cllr Waterworth tried to vote down a recommendation to take enforcement action at a property which had a legitimate extension and conservatory, but added high level decking and a pergola which fell outside of the consent.

This is not the first time Cllr Waterworth has been belligerent in Planning Committee. His is normally a silent presence, perhaps mindful of Mark Twain’s advice.

If Cllr Waterworth thinks it acceptable to be rude about residents and to not defend their best interests then I hope he goes back to his old strategy of saying nought.

Change fish and chip shop to flat

APPLN. NO: 14/01872/FUL

Officer: Patricia Coyle Date Valid. 19 November 2014

CHANGE USE OF GROUND FLOOR FROM FISH AND CHIP SHOP (CLASS A3) TO SELF-CONTAINED FLAT (CLASS C3), ALTER FRONT ELEVATION AND LAYOUT CAR PARKING SPACE TO REAR

198 STATION ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA ESSEX

This area already has problems with shops converted into flats. This has resulted in daily rubbish collections – a rarity in a borough where almost everywhere else has a weekly collection.

If this conversion is to be allowed then sufficient amenity space must be incorporated to allow for the storage of rubbish sacks, food caddies, and the like.

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