A HUGE development of 282 flats, plus restaurants, shops and bars could be built on Southend seafront ambitious if new plans unveiled today come to fruition.

After a year of delays and false starts, developer Goldfield has taken the wraps off proposals to transformMarine Plaza, the area off Marine Parade.

The site would be home to six blocks of flats – one of them 14 stories tall– with a wide range of bars, shops, takeaways, and restaurants. on the ground floor.

Richard Stevens, partner at the Inner London Group, which has advised the developer on the plans, said: “This is the biggest scheme the town has seen for years. It’s one that will kickstart the seafront.

“This has already cost millions and it’ll be a project that costs millions to complete, so the landowner won’t just sit on it if it has planning permission. It will follow through.”

If planning permission is granted, work could start next year, with the aim of completing the project by 2018.

Such a bold plan has been mooted ever since the site, which houses the derelict former Funland play area, and a temporary car park there was acquired in 2010.

The Foresters Arms pub, also on the site, has now also been bought up by Goldfield, leaving just one key part of the site – a terraced house in Southchurch Avenue – to be acquired.

The Echo understands several companies have already shown an interest in moving into some of the new shops, restaurants and bars.

Christopher Wickham, of planning agent Christopher Wickham Associates, said: “Our clients will be building a landmark building at the Eastern end of the seafront.

“The scheme will change the scale of the seafront. It is a sensible scheme that is visually exciting and will benefit traders, residents, and day trippers.”

The flats will be a mixture of one, two, and three bedroom properties, with a stairwell leading up to the flats and a shop, allowing access to the development from Southchurch Avenue.

The development will also feature an underground car park with space for 318 cars and 449 residents’ cycle racks.

Paul Thompson, chairman of the Seafront Traders’ Association, said: “In my 14 years here, this is one of the biggest projects I’ve seen and it looks fantastic.”



Project at the forefront of seafront regeneration


THE Marine Plaza project could be at the forefront of a series of planned regeneration projects to breathe new life into Southend seafront.

A new multiplex cinema is planned for nearby Seaway car park, off Lucy Road, while in Eastern Esplanade, a new £7million 80-room Premier Inn is taking shape on the former gasworks site – another seafront eyesore finally gone.

The hotel is due to open in early 2015.

Other, smaller-scale developments have also come to the fore on the seafront.

The Sealife Centre, in Marine Parade, is set to expand, and Adventure Island also plans to add more amusements to its site.

Plush seafood and steak restaurant Bourgee also recently opened up next to the Kursaal, and has enjoyed big success so far. Graham Longley, Southend councillor responsible for economic regeneration, said: “Of course, it is good to have regeneration of the town and we welcome projects that will regenerate Southend.

“It is also good to have a variety of different types of schemes and developments, we want them to happen as they bring business and jobs to the area.”



Traders say they want a piece of the action

TRADERS say they want a piece of the action when the new development is finally realised.

George Zinonos, who runs Ye Old Chippy, in Marine Parade, says he has been promised a unit in the new development as his store will be demolished to make way for the ambitious plans.

The chippy has been a seafront fixture for more than 50 years, but will have to close for up to two years while the development is built.

He said: “We signed a two-year deal in 2011 to be given a new premises, around 50 per cent larger than our current site, when the new development opens.

“That deal ran out last year, but he has been true to his word with me on many things.

“He even said we could choose our spot, so we are hoping to get something very close to where we are now.

“We’ve been told we’re the only existing business on the site that will be kept on.”

The Echo understands that space for an amusement arcade will also be kept in the development, and Martin Richardson, owner of the Happidrome Arcade, in Marine Parade, also wants in.

He said: “I am always looking for a way to improve and expand so if there was an arcade in the new site then I’d be the first to apply for a lease to run it.”

No one at the the Foresters Arms, which has been bought up by the developer, was prepared to comment.