THE keys to Southend’s iconic Kursaal building could be handed over within a matter of months as council chiefs remain locked in talks to buy back the lease.

A staple of our seafront, the 120-year-old seafront landmark has been empty for years, apart from an on-site Tesco Express, and has become increasingly in need of repair as the months roll on.

But a plan first formed a year ago by Concrete Culture has taken the town by storm, and could see an indoor market, soft play area and much more all installed inside the building as part of the community led project.

The group will publish their formal plans when the lease has been purchased from the current leaseholders, AEW UK This will then be subject to a public consultation, the third the group has organised.


For the first time, Southend Council confirmed they are leading talks with AEW UK to buy back the lease.

It is hoped the council can utilise levelling up funding to purchase the lease.

Southend singer Sam Duckworth, who performs as Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, and who helped form Concrete Culture, said: “We’re really confident in our plan, and we’re confident we can sort out the lease.

“It will be mixed usage 100 per cent.

“It’s been a year since we started, and we’ve come on leaps and bounds since then.

“We’re really excited. It’s an ongoing process at the moment.

“There’s so many options that could work for the Kursaal.

“It’s going to be an intergenerational space, where people can grow up and grow old in.

“There’s a willingness from all sides to get it sorted.”

Mr Duckworth believes the negotiations for the lease can be finalised in up to “three months time.”

A “game-changing” meeting was held between council bosses, officers, and Concrete Culture on Monday.

The Echo understands Concrete Culture pitched their “almost finalised” plan for the Kursaal.

The ideas mooted, alongside an indoor market and play area, include a music venue, cafe, and even an ice rink.

A hotel has previously been touted.

Matt Dent, Labour councillor of the Kursaal ward, said: “The plans are genuinely achievable.

“There was a lot of support from the council for their ideas.

“All the ideas have been generated from the public through the previous consultations.”

Once the lease is secured, and internal works are completed, a phased opening of the building will get underway.

Southend Council is discussing whether to allow temporary stalls to use the building as work continues around them.

Carole Mulroney, councillor in charge of environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “We know how well-loved the Kursaal is by Southend residents and we remain in discussion with both Concrete Culture and the leaseholder around possible options for the building going forward.”