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Museum plan now likely to go ahead
SOUTHEND council chiefs are determined to push through plans for a £35million seafront museum, despite concerns from campaigners and now conservation experts.
Bullish bosses at Southend Council have ruled out completing a time-consuming review of their proposals, even though some residents claim they will ruin the historic area.
The authority wants to sink a 20,000sq ft museum, restaurant and car park complex into the cliffs above Western Esplanade, primarily to act as the home for the Prittlewell Prince treasures.
Campaigners have tried to block the plans and claimed they would irrevocably damage the seafront’s image. However, chiefs say the negative effect of the controversial development on the Clifftown Conservation Area will not be “significant” and are determined to secure planning permission next week.
In a statement, Andrew Meddle, head of planning and transport, said: “The impact of the development on the Clifftown Conservation Area is considered to be positive.
“The development is considered to act as a transition between the historic nature of Clifftown and the contemporary nature of the seafront.”
Members of the Clifftown Conservation Association managed to force the authority to withdraw its first bid for planning permission in May, hours before it was due to be considered.
The association pointed out the council had not completed an environmental impact assessment – a technical blueprint which estimates whether the plans would have any negative effect on the wildlife, vegetation and heritage of the museum site.
English Heritage waded into the row last month, calling for the authority to “carefully consider” the impact of the development and think about completing a full assessment.
But the council, which isultimately responsible for deciding whether the assessment takes place, have now ruled it out. That means the plans will be back before the development control committee on Wednesday, July 18.
The move has dismayed campaigners, who hoped the council would be forced to go back to the drawing board.
Jane Lillyman, 34, of Clifftown Parade, said: “I really don’t like the idea. I think the cliffs are lovely as they are, and they should be preserved.
“This simply isn’t the right place for this sort of development.”
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