AN HISTORIC Southend cricket pavilion is set to be torn down to make way for a £1million replacement, it has been revealed.

The crumbling cricket pavilion in Southchurch Park, which once hosted local, national and international teams, is set to razed to the ground.

It would have cost in the region of £700,000 to repair, but instead, £1million has been earmarked to build a replacement which will be an “all-purpose” building with wider community benefits.

Ron Woodley, Residents First councillor for Thorpe Ward, welcomed plans for a new pavilion but said the historic building should never have been allowed to deteriorate to the point where there was no choice but to demolish it.

He said: “I think the council officers who allowed this historic pavilion to be in the state that it’s in, to be demolished, should hang their heads in shame. This is a renowned pavilion that the Australian cricket team back in 1948 scored a record number of runs in a single day.

“It’s where Don Brandman scored a record number of runs in a day. The council officers allowed it to be in this state where vegetation crawled up the side of it into the roof, opening up the roof to the weather, where the foundations were undermined from the shrubs and trees surrounding it, where they couldn’t protect it from vandalism properly.”

Mr Woodley added: “This is not just about money it’s about history. This is about Southchurch Park history and about everything we should be holding dear on our historic buildings. They have convinced me that it will have to be demolished but they have also agreed to build a new pavilion/community hub for the sports clubs and the community to the tune of £1million. Those plans are being finalised and I appreciate the efforts by Tony Cox.”

The council currently has a £14million revenue account deficit but the cost of new pavilion will come out of the council’s capital account.

Mr Cox, Tory leader of the council said: “It’s in the capital programme. It’s to rebuild it but we have got to demolish the current one and then go to a design phase to working up another because there’s changing rooms and things needed there that aren’t there.

“It’s something that needs to be done but having a pavilion that can be used as an all-purpose building taking in other things. We shouldn’t just allow buildings to go to rack and ruin.”