WORKMEN have begun replanting trees at Victoria Gateway in a bid to attract more people to the public space.
Trees, green areas and new seating will be added to the large, open space, outside Southend Victoria Station, to encourage people to gather and make access to the High Street clearer.
Mature trees were removed from Victoria Circus roundabout in a multi-million pound revamp of the key junction in 2011.
Contractors have now begun digging trenches ready for the new greenery.
Martin Terry, Southend councillor responsible for transport, said: “I am very pleased this work is going to take place, which will make a big improvement to what is an important entrance into the town.
“We know there has been much debate about this area since it was created, so the council has reviewed what is there and listened to local people.
“The plans that have been created follow numerous comments, feedback and widespread public involvement.
“This work will create a much friendlier and safer public space, bringing some new greenery and a community garden into the heart of Southend, along with tactile paving.
“This exciting development is about creating more accessible, better streets and places for people to enjoy in Southend and I look forward to seeing the work completed.”
New lighting will also be installed and access to and from the High Street will be more defined.
Community events will be held on the plaza.
A ninth-month review of Victoria Gateway by John Dales, from consultancy Urban Movement, concluded trees, seating and lighting could be added to the open space to give it “sense of place”.
It also called for a “bolder public art installation” than the statue “the Return”, which has failed to attract people to the area.
Mr Dales suggested skateboarders could be encouraged, rather than seen as a menace, or other activities, such as table tennis, be added to the area.
Hundreds of residents put forward ideas for improvements, including community events and workshops as part of the council’s “pocket places” project.
Work on the project is due to be completed by the end of September.
Artist impression of how Victoria Gateway could look
Plant your own veg in a pocket park
RESIDENTS will be able to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables in a new town centre park.
Southend Council is building a new “pocket park” at the junction of Queensway and Boston Avenue, in the town.
The slip road which allows traffic leaving Boston Avenue to join Queensway will be removed
to make space for the park and the existing entrance to Boston Avenue will be made two-way.
Paving will be created around the existing trees and the pavement will be moved away from the wall outside Alexandra Court to create more space around the trees and prevent future damage from roots.
A spokesman for Southend Council said: “At the Boston Avenue junction with Queensway a ‘pocket place’ will be created for the community to enjoy, with activities for children and landscaped areas for local residents to grow flowers and fruit and vegetables.
“Connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists will also be improved.
“There will be some minor changes to the road layout at Boston Avenue, but access to and from Queensway will be maintained at all times.”
For more details, visit http://tinyurl.com/n2g59ed/