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Committee 'had not read seafront museum report'
11:38am Friday 20th July 2012 in Letters
I attended the meeting at which Southend’s seafront museum was approved.
It was obvious the planning committee has little experience in either planning or construction. It was evident from the inane questions the committee raised they had neither studied the plans nor read the reports. The questions ranged from “were the engineers who designed the piling aware there were underground water problems?” via “Will the dome be covered with grass?” to “Won’t it be nice for the crews of the ships plying the river to see how nice Southend seafront is?” The deep water channel is some two miles from Western Esplanade and you would need extraordinary eyesight or binoculars to see any detail from there.
It was equally obvious the officers had produced a sloppy application, through which any competent barrister will be able to drive a horse and cart, if this goes to a judicial review.
...My role in the debate about the museum was quite small. I am not a member of Southend Council’s development control committee, so had no vote.
I am disappointed in the outcome, but have no complaint about the process. I spoke my piece, was politely listened to, and do not doubt my views were weighed up with the other opinions expressed. Some others, like me, who opposed to the planned museum, cried foul when the vote went against us. I suspect they would have remained silent had our view won out.
The council now has to find a lot of money. The exact amount varies, but the minimum is £35 million, and £50 million could easily be exceeded. These sums will not be easy to come by and many will hope the money is not forthcoming.
My opposition centred around the loss of a green space. No amount of landscaping will hide the fact much will be concreted over. There are other objections, not least over the viability of the plans and the suitability of the chosen site.
Many in Milton ward have woken up to the fact voting in local elections is important, for the 17 members of the committee were all in place to do so because of the votes, and apathy, of the residents of Southend.
Labour councillor for Milton ward
...I attended the planning meeting at the Civic Centre with regard to the commercialisation of Southend cliffs below the former Bandstand.
I was astounded by the utter arrogance of the planning committee.
One after another members of this select club stood up and told the packed public gallery this ultra modern monstrosity would blend in perfectly with the beautiful Victorian houses it is about to dwarf.
Time and time again they contradicted themselves, firstly stating the whole structure would not protrude above the clifftop, only to say ten minuets later it would protrude 2.4m – that's nearly 8ft. Very little was taken into account of the thousands of people who signed a petition against this folly. It seems we are just the little people and these demigods can do as they please.
I urge people not to forget these councillors’ names and at the next local election let’s put some people in power who have the public’s interests at heart.
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