THE £575 million redevelopment of Southend’s Queensway estate cannot go ahead if the nearby underpass remains in place, developers say.

Swan Housing - helping to build the 1,760 new homes - claims the underpass staying put is“not an option” if the development is to continue.

Under the current approved plans, existing high-rises will be bulldozed and new blocks ranging from three to 18-storeys would be built.

The underpass - seen by some as a major town centre traffic artery - would go.

Southend’s Tories have long criticised the Queensway underpass removal, claiming it would cause traffic chaos for drivers in the town.


At a council meeting, Labour council leader, Ian Gilbert highlighted comments from Swan Housing’s deputy chief executive Geoff Pearce, saying the underpass must go.

It read: “During the procurement process, Swan and its high-quality consultant team carefully considered all the possible options regarding the Queensway, and the final proposals submitted reflected our conclusion that retaining the underpass was not an option for both financial and delivery reasons.

“But also more importantly because its retention would not enable us to build a great place to call home at Queensway.

“The transformative impact of bringing the road to grade is such that we did not want to proceed on any other basis as otherwise our organistational objectives and the wider regeneration objectives could and would not be met.”

Mr Gilbert refused to “go back to the drawing board” over the plans.

Tony Cox, leader of Southend Tories, questioned figures which showed limited impact on traffic if the underpass is mothballed.

He said: “I’m not sure why they can’t go ahead with it without the underpass.

“They’re not building any homes on it.”

Conservative councillors called for fresh talks to reverse the decision to fill in the Queensway underpass but this was rejected by Southend’s full council.