Southend Council has submitted a planning application seeking to change the use and refurbish the empty retail unit, known as Unit 21, which was built as part of the Pier Hill lift project but never occupied.
The plans submitted to the Council’s Development Control team provide for café space with a patio, gallery space and kitchen and seating.
If approved, a variety of shows and exhibitions would be a feature of the gallery, curated by different groups and organisations. The ‘shop front’ would be open and welcoming, attracting visitors to look inside and explore. A small kitchen would allow small scale catering.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism & The Economy, said: “Since this unit was built, several operators have moved forward with plans to occupy it only to pull out at the eleventh hour.
“We would like to see the unit used as a café and events venue with creative space, so that it can host cultural activities such as music, poetry and arts events. Furthermore, due to its central position connecting the town centre and seafront, the venue is perfectly situated to act as a shop window to the Borough’s wider cultural scene.”
£200,000 has been budgeted to deliver the building. It is then anticipated that it would then be incorporated in the Focal Point Gallery’s and Council’s cultural programme.
The application is to be determined by Southen Council’s Development Control Committee later in the year.
Anyone can view and comment upon by the planning application by visiting https://publicaccess.southend.gov.uk and searching for Planning Application 12/00396/FULM