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Demolition starts on youth centre
11:00am Friday 6th September 2013 in News
WORK has started to strip out and demolish a former youth centre in Leigh which is earmarked for redevelopment.
The ageing building at the back of Leigh Community Centre, in Elm Road, closed at the end of July and forms part of a development plan by Southend Council.
The Elm Road blueprint proposes removing two buildings – the former town council office and a neighbouring private home – to open up the site for housing, a redesigned car park and new public square.
The community centre and police station would remain. Demolition of the youth centre marks the start of the development plan, but the specific development has yet to receive planning permission.
Charities and groups including Southend Junior Phab, a club for children with and without disabilities and the Thursday Club for people with learning difficulties, used the building for meetings.
But the groups were given notice at the start of the year about the closure. Once it is cleared the land will be used for parking until the proposals are finalised.
Mike King, chairman of the Thursday Club, said: “The club has met for 37 years at the rear of the community centre in Leigh, but we have recently been advised that the building is to be demolished, so we are delighted to be re-locating to specially converted rooms at the community centre.”
Alan Richards, Southend Council’s group manager for asset management, said the youth centre was being demolished because it was a late 1960s building which would need significant investment.
He added: “With the remodelling of services, the tightening budgets and in the context of the future development aspirations, the decision has been taken to close and demolish the building rather than manage the costs and risks around mothballing and the inevitable antisocial behaviour associated.
“The council met with the groups who hired the rooms and offered support. “The Elm Road development brief consultation has closed and the brief is being finalised which will guide long term development opportunities.”
Leigh Town Council is using many of the fixtures and fittings from the youth centre at the neighbouring community centre including the fitted kitchen and lighting. Full demolition will start in the next few days.
Leigh councillor Richard Herbert is spearheading an alternative plan seeking to extend the community centre and have fewer houses. He says Southend’s plan lacks imagination and is “a missed opportunity.”
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