CAMPAIGNERS are facing an uphill task to bring Southend’s iconic Kursaal back into use because a break-clause was not included in a 200-year deal.

Labour councillor Matt Dent has insisted the council must learn lessons with the building standing empty and bosses unable to take control of its future.

He believes current leaseholders, AEW,have at least 200 years left on their contract, which the council extended a decade ago.

Southend Council has stated AEW has no interest in selling it and bosses do not have powers to take back control.

But campaigners Concrete Culture remain confident the Kursaal can return to its former glory.


Mr Dent, representing Kursaal ward, said: “There are lessons to be learnt. We should have had a break clause put in.

“This isn’t the place we want to be starting negotiations, but we have to deal with it. We’re not getting the value from the leaseholder.

“There must be more than 200 years left.”

Concrete Culture is working on ambitious plans to bring the building back to life.

The group, launched last year, had more than a thousand residents take part in a consultation with a TV studio, music venue and indoor skatepark topping the list.

Sam Duckworth, better known as Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, refused to criticise the council, adding: “The council has been working really hard to get it back.

“There will still be room for manoeuvre.

“It’s different this time, plans before often didn’t get over the line. We’ve just had the Railway close it’s doors, there will be nothing left of Southend.”

Tandra Forster, executive director for adults and communities at Southend Council, said: “It is important to be clear that the council’s position as freeholder does not supersede that of the leaseholder who remains responsible for the building and its running.

“We do not have legal power or right to simply take the lease back.

“Although we are the freeholder, there is a very long lease for the building in place, and to our knowledge, the current leaseholder does not wish to sell their leasehold interest at the current time.

“Should that position change, the council could consider its options.”