Contractors, Marlborogh, have already sectioned off the area of Three Shells Beach, where the football pitch-sized lagoon is to be built. They have constructed a concrete platform for the heavy machinery to be used during construction and have now laid the first granite rocks of the new lagoon walls into place.
Sheets of welded metal inside the rock walls will retain the seawater when the tide comes in, whilst rubberised material at the base of the wall will prevent silt and mud from entering and exiting the lagoon. Valves will be installed into the wall so that the lagoon can be emptied and refilled, ensuring a high quality of regularly-replenished bathing water.
The project was given the go-ahead by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), which approves developments on Britain’s foreshore, earlier this year.
Cllr Mary Betson, Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, said: “We are delighted that work has started on this exciting project, meaning that, by this summer, beachgoers eager for a dip in the sea will no longer be held hostage to fortune by tides that can retreat by over a mile.
“Southend welcomes around 6 million visitors per year and the tourism economy supports around 7,000 jobs. Building the lagoon will make the sea accessible all day, every day throughout the summer. This is another fantastic step forward in the regeneration of the seafront and major draw for the town.”
Stockvale Group are key partners in the project and are keen to see progress.
Marc Miller, Managing Director, said: “The Stockvale Group is very excited to be part of the fantastic 'Three Shells Lagoon development', which will prove very popular for families, who will be able to enjoy the beach and water, all day, every day, throughout the year. In addition to the wonderful lagoon and beach, visitors will also get much needed toilet facilities, showers and landscaping.
“This prestigious development will provide a boost to local businesses, including Adventure Island, which will without doubt provide confidence, further investment and more jobs. This will help Southend to keep one step ahead of other resorts and certainly give visitors something to come back for time and time again.”
Under the plans, the slipway at Three Shells Beach, used by the Alexandra Yacht Club, will be moved further along the seafront. This will also be used by the Lower Thames Rowing Club, adding to the water sports opportunities at the central seafront.
Linda McKay, Membership Secretary of The Alexandra Yacht Club, said: “The solution not only provides the lagoon as an exciting addition to the town, but also provides safe sailing off the foreshore for not only the members of the Alexander Yacht Club but also the Lower Thames Rowing Club.
“The yacht club has been sailing off this part of the foreshore since 1873. The yacht club, along with the rowing club, hope to keep our historic presence alive, whilst providing valuable water-based activities on this central section of the foreshore for everyone to watch, or take part in, alongside the lagoon facility."
Works to deliver both the lagoon and slipway are due to complete in readiness for the peak summer season this year.