A NEW commercial precinct is planned next to a popular park and nature reserve.

Garrison Developments LLP is seeking permission to build nine commercial units, a retail unit and a vets next to Gunners Park and a primary school in Shoebury.

The application is the latest phase of the garrison development which has seen hundreds of new homes built on the former Ministry of Defence site.

If given the go ahead by Southend Council, the units will be built on land off New Barge Pier Road, opposite Hinguar Primary School.

The 3.2-acre site - about one-and-a-half football pitches, was previously given outline permission as a business park as part of the Garrison development.

A separate supermarket site was also earmarked for the estate but no application has been made.

Each of the nine commercial units will have six parking spaces along with a disabled bay and bike and motorbike parking throughout the site.

The Garrison has had mixed fortunes in finding tenants for its commercial properties.

One of three office blocks neighbouring the nearby Sainsburys store had lain empty since it was built and the developer was eventually granted planning permission to turn the building into six new houses despite the land being designated for employment use.

A gym and pool built on the Garrison estate in 2004 was never put to use. The building is currently the subject of an appeal after Southend Council refused a bid to turn the former gunnery drill shed into more homes.

Two wildlife corridors will border the development. Barge Pier Ditch is protected by a six-metre no-build area but could be widened to form one of the corridors and reeded area to provide a habitat for birds such reed warblers.

In their application, the developers said: “Outside the site boundary to the west is an open stretch of land which accommodates the River Shoe and its bank.

“This land will be cut off from future development and will therefore be preserved as a green corridor running down to the estuary.”

The application adds : “The proposed development will provide needed retail, trade and employment opportunities while at the same time enhancing existing wildlife and ecological assets.”

Shoebury Residents’ Association was yesterday due to meet with homeowners on the estate to gauge their views.

In 2016 Garrison Developments’ plans for a housing estate on a Shoebury flood plain were approved.

Controversial plans for 172 homes, office blocks, and a health centre on Old Gunner’s Park, between Barge Pier Road and Ness Road, were given approval at a heated meeting at Southend Council’s development control committee despite fears the homes would be vulnerable to flooding at an earlier meeting.