The Housing Working Party and then a resident update session were told how the major project is moving forwards with a number of key reports and studies completed and good progress being made.
It has been revealed the project could include:
• A new commercial/mixed use station re-development directly connecting Southend Victoria railway station to the Victoria shopping centre and town centre.
• A new community of approximately 1,000 homes, including 441 affordable (current level is 359)
• The potential widening of Chichester Road to 15 metres to accommodate new traffic.
• Reconnecting the town centre to the Queensway area by covering over the Queensway underpass and protecting through traffic to the seafront.
• A re-landscaped Queensway roundabout junction to connect Porters to the town centre and make it a real focus.
• Opportunity to work with the owners of properties in Southchurch Road to investigate what opportunities exist to improve the area
Around 1,000 new homes will be needed across the whole regeneration site to make the project financially viable and ensure that all residents who wish to remain in either refurbished or new homes can do so. The regeneration site includes the former Queensway House and Focus Youth Centre site and the Short Street car park. Approximately only 7.5% of the total site is currently occupied by homes.
The next stage of the project will be to consult with tenants and leaseholders more widely and prepare a project brief to attract potential developers.
Cllr David Norman, Executive Councillor for Housing, Planning and Regulatory Services, says: “We are still at an early and conceptual stage, but I am very pleased at the progress made. A lot of the background work and research has been completed that puts us in a good position as we move further forwards and seek to attract private developers to help us deliver a better Queensway with better housing, better living and a better place reconnected with the town centre.
“The future of the tower blocks is clearly an important issue for all the residents but we are not at the stage where we can say definitively what will happen and I do not think it would be helpful to speculate at this time. I have no doubt that we will have to make some difficult decision in the future as we work with local people and the private sector to work out what is realistic financially and also from a design point of view to ensure that we create a better place.
“However what I can say with certainty is that we will do our best to offer every tenant and resident the opportunity to stay if they wish to do so. To do that we will need 1,000 homes to be built to make the project financially viable, of which at least 441 will remain affordable. That sounds a lot but when you look at the whole regeneration area, only 7.5% of the total area is developed, so that gives you a good indication of the opportunity and potential of the site.
“Our vision is to also create a new primary care facility on site, new shops and community facilities like cafes and perhaps an early years centre or crèche for example. We also believe we can use this opportunity to revitalise the train station area and improve the connectivity to the town centre. We will also transform the highways network in this area and by covering over the underpass we can restore the connection to the town centre and reclaim unused land to help us create a new community. Added together this is the biggest and most exciting regeneration project Southend-on-Sea has ever seen.
“Finally, I made a personal commitment to the local residents that we would engage with them and keep them informed and we will continue to do that. Whilst we will not be able to keep everyone happy, and there will inevitably be disruption, inconvenience and tough times ahead, we will create a better Queensway and transform this area for the good of the local community.”
A report will be presented to the council’s cabinet on Tuesday 22nd September.