On the Seaway Car Park proposals, again

cineWorldPullsOutI was telephoned by the local press earlier this week in regards to the latest development at Seaway Car Park. I have spoken and written about this a number of times, but I think it is worth re-stating my views on the proposals.

I guess it all begins when one looks at deprivation, and how it clustered largely in the town centre. My post (Quietly raging), written just after my election, is still relevant, and explains why I cannot ignore what is going on at Seaway.

I will use bullet points to summarise what is the issue:

• The town centre wards have significant areas of deprivation.
• The town centre wards also see life expectancy rates more than ten years lower than other wards in the borough.
• Population density and overcrowding are a significant factor in deprivation.
• Whilst I do not suggest stopping all development, I am extremely concerned about further overcrowding an already crowded area.
• Milton also has significant traffic and parking issues.
• The town centre wards also do not have much open space – whilst only a car park, it is open.
• The road infrastructure already struggles to cope with existing traffic volumes – the commercial ventures here will attract more cars.
• There is a loss of parking, although I accept that some of this will be made up by other car parks. However, none are as close to the seafront as this is.
• The nearby residents will suffer a loss of view.
• Is there a need for a second cinema? Whilst I accept this is a commercial decision, I suspect that this will exacerbate the current south/north divide in the High Street – which sees (in my opinion) the southern, seafront, end doing much better than the northern, top, end.

Four planning applications for Milton ward

In amongst the latest applications are these four that will interest sime:-

APPLN. NO: 15/00908/CLE
Ward. Milton
Officer: Neil Auger Date Valid. 7 July 2015
USE PROPERTY AS HOUSE IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION (LAWFUL DEVELOPMENTcCERTIFICATE – EXISTING)
44 HEYGATE AVENUE SOUTHEND-ON-SEA ESSEX

APPLN. NO: 15/00959/FUL
Ward. Milton
Officer: Janine Rowley Date Valid. 7 July 2015
CHANGE OF USE FROM NON RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTION (CLASS D1) TO RESIDENTIAL (CLASS C3)
CECIL JONES HOUSE 50 AVENUE ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA

APPLN. NO: 15/00960/FUL
Ward. Milton
Officer: Janine Rowley Date Valid. 7 July 2015
CHANGE OF USE FROM NON RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTION (CLASS D1) TO RESIDENTIAL (CLASS C3)
WARDENS FLAT CECIL JONES HOUSE 50 AVENUE ROAD

APPLN. NO: 15/01029/FUL
Ward. Milton
Officer: Janine Rowley Date Valid. 8 July 2015
CHANGE OF USE TO FIRST AND SECOND FLOORS FROM OFFICES AND STORAGE SPACE ANCILLARY TO GROUND FLOOR RETAIL USE (CLASS A1) INTO A FIVE BEDROOM HOUSE IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION (CLASS SUI GENERIS)ORANGE MOBILE
99 HIGH STREET SOUTHEND-ON-SEA

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.

The Leas conservation area

Current

Current

The following maps are from the leas conservation area appraisal by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

This area covers parts of both Milton and Chalkwell wards.

Proposed

Proposed

My words at Development Control, today, in respect of the latest planning application for The Leas sun shelter

Many here present will recall my 55th birthday, for that was when we last discussed the Sun Shelter. On November 12th 2014 the suggestion for a rotunda on the roof of the shelter was rejected by the Development Control Committee.

It may be remembered that the suggestion for a rooftop structure at this site, which lies within the Leas Conservation Area, was rejected, in part anyway, because it was considered out of character for the area.

Many then were of the opinion that the Waites were nothing if not persistent; and so it has been proved. Today you are being asked to approve another plan for the roof, albeit one that it is being described as temporary.

I will give credit to the Waite family for one thing – they do have a certain facility for uniting popular opinion. Almost everyone who lives within the vicinity of the sun shelter is united in opposing any change to the roof.

You will have seen a number of email exchanges, and this application has been a significant feature of my inbox for several months. It has to be said that the antics of the developer has brought suspicion upon themselves, and I believe that trust has been damaged.

This is to be regretted, because their original plans were welcomed. And their proposals would be welcomed again if only they would abandon plans to extend the cafe beyond the sun shelter and the ground immediately in front of it.

The current proposals hinge on the placement of air conditioning equipment. All sorts of alterations have been made to the roof in anticipation of the developer being able to get their own way. This is an affront to how we should operate, and in of itself should be enough for a ‘no’ vote. How can you go ahead and vandalise public property without proper consent? I am outraged.

In amongst the mass of emails it would appear that the Council has been aware of what the developer was doing, although I have to say that there is an air of confusion about who knows what, and when. I confess to not being entirely on sure ground with this application, because there has been some inconsistency in what has been presented as fact.

I hope I am a reasonable person. A genuinely temporary structure that once removed (with a strict timetable) would see the balcony restored to former glories is a compromise I would be content with. However, I am less than convinced that residents, at present anyway, will be so easily assuaged.

I urge all who sit on DCC to send a signal that their authority is sacrosanct, and that any alteration to the roof of the sun shelter is not welcomed, and will not be allowed. And, if they are so minded to approve a temporary structure, I would encourage a firm and strict timetable be put in place, with equally strict requirements for the putting right of the balcony upon its removal.

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

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