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Tear down Esplanade House carbuncle now
6:50am Monday 19th August 2013 in News
COUNCILLORS have threatened to force a developer to clear the “monstrous carbuncle” Esplanade House unless its future is sorted out next month.
The Robert Leonard Group has agreed to tear down the half demolished office block in Eastern Esplanade, Southend, if Premier Inn’s plans for a five storey hotel on the former gasworks site next door get the go ahead next month.
But Southend Council has warned it may use special powers to force the firm to clear the site if the plans stall, claiming it makes the seafront look like a Middle East war zone. David Norman, chairman of the council’s development control committee, said: “When you get past the Kursaal you reach Beirut-on-Sea –a half-dilapidated, broken down shell.
“Councillors find the eyesore growingly unacceptable. In the words of Prince Charles, it’s a monstrous carbuncle.
“The time is fast approaching when we will have to decide what we are doing about that broken down shell on the seafront.”
The development control committee put off deciding whether to give the Robert Leonard Group three more years to start building 216 flats,a 64-bedroom hotel, a restaurant, shops and 50 affordable homes on the site of Esplanade House until next month, when it will also rule on the Premier Inn plan.
Mr Norman, Labour councillor for Victoria, said the council may use powers under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to force the developer to clean up the site if next month’s meeting fails to resolve the matters.
Mike Assenheim, Independent councillor for Shoebury, said: “People of this town are getting sick to the teeth of developers sticking up two fingers and saying ‘we will do what we want’.”
The council may be unable to force a demolition as the powers only enable an authority to order work that needs no new planning permission, as demolition does.
Peter Geraghty, the council’s head of planning and transport, advised councillors to wait and see if their decision on the Premier Inn plan sparks the demolition without the need for statutory powers.
He said: “There is always more than one way to skin a cat and that might be more efficacious in terms of getting it done.”
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