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New seafront Premier Inn set for approval
DEVELOPERS say a seafront hotel set for approval would be a “shot in the arm” for Southend, clearing a derelict eyesore and creating 65 jobs.
Esplanade House, which has blighted Southend seafront for more than five years, will be torn down, if councillors give plans for a 64-bed Premier Inn on the neighbouring former gasworks site the green light as expected on Wednesday.
John Bates, head of acquisitions for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, which owns Premier Inn, said: “Southend has been on our target list for a while and I am pleased to hear council planners have backed our proposals for the town.
“Our proposed hotel will be a shot in the arm for Southend.
“It will bring new life to a derelict site, create 65 new jobs with a FTSE 100 company and will help to bring more leisure and business visitors to the town.
“The new hotel is a vote of confidence in Southend and I hope local councillors back our proposed investment and help us to become a key part of the local business community.”
The Robert Leonard Group, which owns the site, has a contractual agreement with Premier Inn to demolish the ghost block Esplanade House if the hotel is approved.
The new Premier Inn, the second on the seafront after one at Halfway House, would be completed by the end of next year.
Southend Council’s development control committee will also decide whether to give the developer three more years to start work on its long-dormant plans for a separate hotel, restaurant, shops, 216 flats and 50 affordable homes on the Esplanade House site.
Outline approval for a 64-bed budget hotel, four blocks of flats and affordable homes on the Esplanade site ran out last month and would need to be extended before any development – including the Premier Inn – takes place.
If the deadline is extended, a housebuilder is waiting in the wings to build the affordable homes next year.
But Anne Jones, Labour councillor for Kursaal, raised concerns over drainage and the contamination risk from the long-demolished gasworks.
She said: “We need to ensure an agreement with the water company over the water supply and drainage from the site is written into the planning conditions to avoid flooding and contamination, especially in light of the recent flooding.”
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