IT will cost a staggering £500million and will change the face of Southend town centre forever.

Final details for the huge Queensway redevelopment scheme are now imminent as bosses prepare for a full planning application for the scheme.


Going - Queensway tower block

And it means four dilapidated high-rise blocks, Malvern, Chiltern, Quantock, and Pennine - off Queensway in the centre of Southend will be demolished as part of an ambitious blueprint to create 1,800 new homes.

A key focus will be to tackle the crime and drugs issues that have traditionally plagued the estate.

Southend Council insists it will not become another “ghetto”.

Council deputy leader Ron Woodley said: “People in that area deserve decent housing and that’s what we are going to give them.

“We are going to create public open spaces. We are not going to create another ghetto but a housing transformation good for everyone.”


New look - how Queensway could look

Council leader Ian Gilbert said: “I think this will make an enormous difference to residents living there at the moment and for the town as a whole.“We have the temporary car park to the south of Queensway and the Range site which will give us scope to start building so people will begin to see things happening.”

Southend Council will deliver the new Queensway estate in a partnership scheme with Swan Housing - Porters Place Southend-on-Sea LLP - which is set to take up to ten years.

The current estate is set to be demolished under initial plans to build 1,700 homes but an environmental impact assessment has delivered a report based on 1,800 homes up from 1,300 when the scheme was first proposed in 2014. It originally included a mix of mid and low-rise buildings to encourage social cohesion but high rises are now planned.

A new environmental study has been carried out to consider the impact of up to 1,800 new homes, but the council says it isn’t planning that many.

Mr Gilbert added: “This is just something we had to do prior to putting in a final planning application and as far as I know there are no problems but it has to be looked at by the planning department.

“The planning application was due to go in in June but because things have been difficult it has slipped back a bit because of the lockdown, but I’m hoping not by too much.“It is usual to when planning for something like this to put in an amount for slightly above what’s being planned and to the best of my knowledge there are no plans to change the current figure.”

A council spokesman said: “Southend Council’s planning team have received the Environmental Impact Assessment scoping report from Porter’s Place LLP Southend-on-Sea for the Better Queensway regeneration project.

“This is part of the standard process as part of the preparations for a full planning application.”

Residents look forward to better future on new estate

For long-suffering Queensway residents, the regeneration scheme cannot come too soon.

Tenants and homeowners have endured years of antisocial behaviour, drug dealing and vandalism, while there homes have become more and more dilapidated.

Malvern flats resident Mike Smith, 71, said: “People are looking forward to a better layout for the estate and a more pleasant environment.

“I am going to be sitting on the Swan Housing strategy group for residents. We were going to get together and pose our ideas but unfortunately we’ve not been able to meet because of the lockdown but we are hoping some ideas will spring from that.

“Some of the blocks will have 16 to 17 storeys from the current 15 storeys but that doesn’t bother me as I like being quite high up where the air is better and it’s quieter. Some people prefer living on the ground though so everyone is different.

“I don’t think some elderly residents will be around to see it all happen though.”

Mr Smith added: “They need to get it right from day one. I have a financial stake in this as I’m a leaseholder and all that is yet to be sorted out. For tenants it won’t be a problem.

“It’s a long process and people get bored. We don’t have many people turning up to events but this is definitely going ahead and people should turn up to hear about updates. It will be too late when they are given notice they are moving out.

“One of the main things to come up is making the estate safer so not having people drifting in off the streets. People just wander in. I noticed recently someone had knocked the floor indicator lights on the lift off. It was hanging there with bare wires. Doors are still being broken.

“People will be buying these flats so they won’t put up with that. I think the blocks will have to have a concierge.”

Alexandra Waite, 35, is the mother of four boys aged 11 to two years old and is looking forward to a brighter future for her family in Chiltern flats.

She said: “I am very optimistic about it all. It is for the best. We have a very nice community environment here. It’s like a family on Queensway. We’re hoping it will reduce antisocial behaviour more than anything.

“With a new build I think people will take more pride. The flats are not nice looking at the moment but I think it will be a much nicer place. I wouldn’t want them to build 1,800 homes because I think having that many homes would destroy the community feeling we have now.”

Blocks 'have become a magnet for crime'

QUEENSWAY residents have endured years of antisocial behaviour.

In June last year a drug den in a tower block was closed by police.

Essex Police and South Essex Homes served a closure notice at 106 Quantock, in Chichester Road.

It followed what was described as major issues with anti-social behaviour, drug use and drug dealing.

Problems in securing communal doors to the blocks have been hard to overcome despite repeated interventions by the housing association. The doors have been broken as soon as they are mended, allowing the homeless and drug takers to commune in lobbies and stairwells.

Tenants report intruders taking drugs and urinating in public areas In September 2018 a vulnerable person was saved from exploitation after a court order banned people from a different flat.

Again, the property had been linked to drugs and drug dealing and police and the council served the closure order on the property in a bid to safeguard the resident – a vulnerable adult – from ongoing antisocial behaviour.