CAMPAIGNERS are urging Southend Council to take back the lease on the landmark Kursaal building, hoping it could help ambitious ideas for the site come to life.

Matt Dent, councillor for the Kursaal ward, says the move is one he believes the council would investigate, while exploring the cost.

The building, on Southend seafront, currently has a long term lease with company AEW UK.

Although the council own the freehold for the site, deputy leader Ron Woodley says the council currently has no control over the building and that it is instead the responsibility of the leaseholder.

It comes after more than 1,000 people responded to a consultation by Concrete Culture, sharing their ideas on what they wanted to see for its future.

Mr Dent said: “I’ve never seen a consultation get this kind of response.

“To help these ideas become a reality, the first stage would be looking at whether or not the council can get the lease back and what will this cost come at. I do think the council would investigate this.

“There are a lot of conversations ongoing between the leaseholder and the council, but I do think the world has changed a lot in the last two years since the Kursaal closed.

“I wonder whether the leaseholder would be more open to this now, with the building just sitting there empty. And if an investment isn’t paying off, it’s not worth anything to them.”

A spokesperson from Concrete Culture added: “As the freeholders, Southend Council are an important stakeholder in the future of the Kursaal. We would encourage any situation that allows the town to have a larger say in any design of how this iconic space is used in the future.”

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However Kevin Robinson, councillor for business, culture and tourism, says the current leaseholder is not looking to sell their leasehold interest.

He added: “The Kursaal is an important part of Southend’s heritage and we know that local residents feel passionately about the future of the building. 

“We completely understand the concern about this important and historical building and questions about what the council can do.

“We do not have legal power or right to simply take the lease back and take-over the building, but officers meet regularly with the leaseholder to discuss the building.”

Mr Dent says campaigners are likely to put feedback forward at a council meeting at the end of March.

Leaseholder AEW UK, say they expect to see the leisure industry bounce back, but failed to address any future plans they have for the building when contacted by Echo.