Southend Council looks set to back plans to extend the aquarium in Eastern Esplanade to house the new creatures after special “rainbow” cladding, that reflects light in different colours, was dropped from the design.
Councillors branded the cladding, which would have masked the centre’s iconic pitched roofs as well as covered the extension, “disgraceful” and sent owner the Stockvale Group back to the drawing board in April.
They also feared the extension over an informal staff car park and former crazy golf course to the east, which would be half the size of a football pitch, could spoil the nearby Eastern Esplanade Conservation Area, which protects the heritage of mid-19th century fishermen’s cottages.
But Stockvale, which also owns Adventure Island, seafront restaurant Sands and the Three Shells Beach Cafe, has resubmitted plans with the pitched roofs exposed and light blue cladding, similar to the existing building.
Planning officers have recommended councillors back the new scheme, which Stockvale hopes will boost last year’s 156,000 visitor numbers by a third and create 20 more jobs.
In a statement on Adventure Island’s Facebook page, the Stockvale Group said: “We are getting very excited about our planned extension. Our planning application is being decided on the June 11 and we should soon be bringing you the exciting news that we will be starting work.
“As well as giving you more exhibits, the new extension will help us promote our conservation message, and provide new jobs for Southend.”
Deputy council leader Graham Longley said: “What we are looking for, as always for tourism, is facilities and developments which benefit the town. From that point of view, one welcomes people who put money into the town and make effort to improve what visitors might be able to go and see.”