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Southend seafront development plan stalls
MULTIMILLION-POUND plans for a landmark seafront development in Southend have stalled amid a row over land valuations.
The Echo can reveal talks over the Inner London Group’s proposals for Marine Parade, which include 350 apartments, shops, restaurants and offices, have ground to a halt.
With plans to redevelop the eyesore Esplanade House offices, in Eastern Esplanade, also in limbo, critics have accused developers of holding the seafront to ransom.
Graham Longley , leader of Southend Council’s Lib Dem group, said: “We have been let down time and time again by developers who promise something and never deliver.
“They don’t seem to care about what the seafront looks like, or what impression is given to the people walking past.
“It leaves us with prime sites which look tatty, when so much more could be made of them.”
Inner London Group paid £2.25million for a large section of land between Marine Parade, Southchurch Avenue and Pleasant Road two years ago.
But it still needs to buy the Happidrome amusement arcade, which lies at the heart of the site, and its owners say they are nowhere near reaching a deal.
Stanley Knatchbull co-owns the Happidrome site, including the Rockery and Wilkies Shellfish Bar, with business partner Edward Warren.
It has been valued at £800,000 by the Land Registry.
He said: “Everything has stalled.
“Their valuation of the site is so far off ours that we haven’t even come close to an agreement.
“There is nothing happening at the moment.”
The first glimpse of the massive development, commonly known as Marine Plaza, was revealed in December 2010, when preliminary proposals were put forward by the Pegasus Planning Group on behalf of Inner London Group.
The scheme, which would sit opposite the Kursaal, is expected to be ten to 14 storeys high and include 6,000sqm of commercial floor space.
All existing properties on the site, including the old Funland area, the Foresters Arms and the Happidrome would be bulldozed if the plans go ahead.
The New Ship pub has already been demolished.
However, Inner London Group missed its initial self-set deadline of last summer for submitting a planning application to Southend Council.
In January, it secured permission to build 97 flats on a former factory site, in Sutton Road, Southend, after a drawn-out fight.
In the wake of that decision, Larry Fenttiman, senior partner at the company, said it could trigger other developments in Southend and Rochford District.
However, Mr Knatchbull said he had not heard from Inner London Group “for months”.
Legally, the company would not need to buy the Happidrome site before submitting a planning application.
However, because the application fee for such a large development would stretch into many thousands of pounds, it would be usual for a preliminary deal to be in place.
Mr Knatchbull said: “It’s been a long time since they’ve been in touch, and we haven’t chased them. As far as I’m concerned, nothing is happening.”
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