SOUTHEND Council has put in a bid to buy two dilapidated office blocks in Victoria Avenue, to kickstart the regeneration of the area. We asked what people would like to see replace them.
INDEPENDENT SOUTHEND COUNCILLOR MARTIN TERRY
“CLEARLY this area is now defunct as a business area.
“We have got some major business park developments happening elsewhere in the borough.
“I would like to see it go back to housing, which is ironic because it was all housing until they built those God-awful tower blocks.
“I would want to see some high-quality family housing in there though, not rabbit hutches.”
JOHN LAMB, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION TORY GROUP ON SOUTHEND COUNCIL
“WE had looked at developing the area for a long time and we were hoping the owners could have either refurbished the buildings or pulled them down.
“Ideally, we hoped for shops and some homes with gardens, as that would make the road much more attractive.
“We also were pushing for some office blocks to still remain, but they would have had to been modernised.
“We pushed the Government for cash and we will continue to push the new administration to make sure this regeneration happens.”
JAMES DUDDRIDGE, TORY MP FOR ROCHFORD AND SOUTHEND EAST
“VICTORIA Avenue has been in need of regeneration for many years. The access to Southend via Victoria Avenue does not do the town justice and I welcome investment to improve this gateway.
“I think the area will benefit from economic investment and a corporate approach, but that doesn’t mean housing should not be considered, as there is a need for additional housing in Southend and mixed use seems to be better for a cohesive micro community.
“I support mixed developments including housing on Victoria Avenue, the seafront and elsewhere.”
DAVID BURCH, ESSEX CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
“THEY are the buildings opposite the council offices, and they are really ugly buildings.
“Clearly there is a real need for them to be developed and they can’t be left for too much longer.
“We are 100 per cent in support of the council trying to attract inward investment.
“We have no particular views on what should happen there, but a mixed use development, perhaps of shops and housing, seems logical.
“These days, it seems best trying to createamixed use development rather than zoning it for one particular activity, but the crucial thing is to get things moving so that will create jobs in the local ec onomy.”
TREVOR INNARD, 61, OFF NEARBY CROWBOROUGH ROAD
“IT was mentioned a few years ago the council would buy the blocks and develop them for residential purposes.
“We said OK, but we had concerns about parking, making the situation worse for neighbouring streets. Eventually we won the battle and they shelved the plans.
“If they use them for council offices now, they need to make sure people use the parking spaces available, or a public open space would be good.”
MARK SHARP, 44, COMMITTEE MEMBER OF CAMPAIGN GROUP SKIPP
“IN our opinion, with a piece of land that size, the obvious and only thing that should be put in their place is affordable housing.
We have thousands of people on the housing waiting list.
The price of housing is horrendous, b e c a u s e there is so little available.
“There is potential for commercial properties, but in our opinion it should primarily be used for housing.
“I don’t think there is a massive call for that amount of commercial property. I could see a situation where, if they built more offices, they would stand empty.”
ROSE CHAPMAN, 82, OF QUANTOCK FLATS, CHICHESTER ROAD
“THEY should put houses there. I should like to see a nice bungalow, which I could live in. I wouldn’t mind that.
“Or there could be a couple of high rise blocks of flats, provided they put real people in there, not the druggies we have in here.
“I wouldn’t mind living down in that area, but by the time anything happens, I’ll be in a box.
“What’s the good of having offices down there when there are so many empty ones around town.
How it is now is a disgrace.”
IAN GILBERT, DEPUTY LEADER OF SOUTHEND COUNCIL
“THE important thing is to get the derelict blocks taken down as quickly as possible.
“They are blighting the area, causing a nuisance to nearby residents and discouraging investment.
“In the future, I think we will be looking at a mix of uses.
“This could include smaller, more modern commercial property and an element of housing.
“There is little demand for huge office blocks, but the site is big enough to generate both jobs and homes if properly redeveloped.”