Southend City Deal 'will end Victoria Avenue blight on the town'

Signing - back (l-r) Cllr John Lamb and MPs James Duddridge and David Amess, front (l-r) council leader Nigel Holdcroft, cities minister Greg Clarke, South East LEP chairman Peter Jones

Signing - back (l-r) Cllr John Lamb and MPs James Duddridge and David Amess, front (l-r) council leader Nigel Holdcroft, cities minister Greg Clarke, South East LEP chairman Peter Jones

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AN MP says Southend’s new £6million City Deal could help end the “blight” of the Victoria Avenue office blocks.

James Duddridge, the Conservative MP for Rochford and Southend East, spoke as Cities Minister Greg Clark visited the town yesterday to finalise the deal to boost businesses and regenerate the area.

The deal will see Southend benefit from £2.5million of Government investment, which will be spent on small business grants and developing a business incubation centre in the vacant Central Library.

A further £3million in private investment and £670,000 from local government will go towards developing commercial, residential and mixed-use sites.

It is eventually hoped businesses will move out of the incubation space and into newlydeveloped premises on the opposite side of Victoria Avenue, encouraging further development along the road.

Mr Duddridge said: “Victoria Avenue has been a blight on the town.

“I was looking for office space for a few of my workers recently and it is like going into a time warp with cubicle offices.

Blowing the whole thing up and starting again is a good idea.”

The council had hoped for greater powers over planning regulations as part of the deal, but they have not materialised.

Mr Duddridge added: “As a member of the governing party, I need to look at things nationally and locally, and see if we can shift things along with compulsory purchase orders.

“We are there to change the law if it is wrong, and if the law says a whole swathe of a town cannot be regenerated, then it needs to be changed.”

Southend Council leader Nigel Holdcroft said there was now £8million in the council’s budget for compulsory purchase orders, but he hoped to be able to talk to the owners of the land to encourage development.

He said: “Alternatively, they work with us by selling the space at a reasonable price.

“Then the final option is a compulsory purchase order, but I would be disappointed if we had to do that.”

The plans were also backed by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, which hopes to be able to financially back any future developments.

Peter Jones, chairman of the partnership, said: “We are creating an investment fund, which I hope will allow Southend to acquire the land on Victoria Avenue, pull it all down and start again with a serious quality redevelopment.

“It would be hugely positive for business, tourism and other aspects of Southend.”

HELPING HAND OFFERED TO NEW BUSINESSES

Start-up businesses will be given a helping hand by Southend Council’s plans to turn the old Central Library building into a new business “incubation” space.

The plan to turn the two upper floors of the empty building comes as part of the new City Deal.

Cities Minister Greg Clark signed the deal yesterday and said the town has a reputation of supporting entrepreneurs.

He said: “Southend was identified as one of the places outside London that could really drive growth.

“The intention is to have a domino effect. With the library close to the station, once you attract businesses to that space to grow, what is better than to just move up the road into a new office?”

The incubation space would be used by start-up businesses to give them a premises, before developing into a functioning business and moving away to make space for new enterprises.

It would also, among other things, advise businesses on how to access funding, negotiate on property and develop online business solutions.

David Burch, policy director of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: “The idea of an incubation space is something we would whole-heartedly support.

We very much welcome the City Deal and the benefits it will bring to the town.”

Comments (11)

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10:55am Wed 12 Mar 14

Howard Cháse says...

Get on with it sharpish!
Get on with it sharpish! Howard Cháse
  • Score: 8

11:44am Wed 12 Mar 14

Alice in Her Own Land :P says...

No mention the bull-dozing of the eye-sores the other side! Another blight on the town is the now cleared site of the Queensway building recently demolished ... what's happening there? Much of Southend needs an over-haul! Dizzyland opposite the Kursaal and the land behind is another eyesore. At least there is action on the seafront going on finally where the gas works building stood! Why do things take so long to happen?
No mention the bull-dozing of the eye-sores the other side! Another blight on the town is the now cleared site of the Queensway building recently demolished ... what's happening there? Much of Southend needs an over-haul! Dizzyland opposite the Kursaal and the land behind is another eyesore. At least there is action on the seafront going on finally where the gas works building stood! Why do things take so long to happen? Alice in Her Own Land :P
  • Score: 2

1:02pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Nelly99 says...

On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought!
On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought! Nelly99
  • Score: 6

1:28pm Wed 12 Mar 14

shorty1964 says...

Nelly99 wrote:
On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought!
Hi,

I was under the impression that the old Library in Victoria Avenue is now occupied by the Beecroft Gallery which used to be situated in Station Road in Westcliff.
[quote][p][bold]Nelly99[/bold] wrote: On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought![/p][/quote]Hi, I was under the impression that the old Library in Victoria Avenue is now occupied by the Beecroft Gallery which used to be situated in Station Road in Westcliff. shorty1964
  • Score: 0

1:40pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Nelly99 says...

shorty1964 wrote:
Nelly99 wrote: On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought!
Hi, I was under the impression that the old Library in Victoria Avenue is now occupied by the Beecroft Gallery which used to be situated in Station Road in Westcliff.
Nope! Just a derelict building looking sad and forlorn and waiting for occupancy. My point though was," Who is paying for this massive waste of a resource!". Sorry, got carried away there.
[quote][p][bold]shorty1964[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Nelly99[/bold] wrote: On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought![/p][/quote]Hi, I was under the impression that the old Library in Victoria Avenue is now occupied by the Beecroft Gallery which used to be situated in Station Road in Westcliff.[/p][/quote]Nope! Just a derelict building looking sad and forlorn and waiting for occupancy. My point though was," Who is paying for this massive waste of a resource!". Sorry, got carried away there. Nelly99
  • Score: 9

2:45pm Wed 12 Mar 14

DannyK86 says...

Alice in Her Own Land :P wrote:
No mention the bull-dozing of the eye-sores the other side! Another blight on the town is the now cleared site of the Queensway building recently demolished ... what's happening there? Much of Southend needs an over-haul! Dizzyland opposite the Kursaal and the land behind is another eyesore. At least there is action on the seafront going on finally where the gas works building stood! Why do things take so long to happen?
Why can't temporary gardens/allotments/p
arks be put on these sites? A lot of them will be vacant/derelict for years, so it would be great to hand them to the community.
[quote][p][bold]Alice in Her Own Land :P[/bold] wrote: No mention the bull-dozing of the eye-sores the other side! Another blight on the town is the now cleared site of the Queensway building recently demolished ... what's happening there? Much of Southend needs an over-haul! Dizzyland opposite the Kursaal and the land behind is another eyesore. At least there is action on the seafront going on finally where the gas works building stood! Why do things take so long to happen?[/p][/quote]Why can't temporary gardens/allotments/p arks be put on these sites? A lot of them will be vacant/derelict for years, so it would be great to hand them to the community. DannyK86
  • Score: 10

2:47pm Wed 12 Mar 14

DannyK86 says...

Nelly99 wrote:
On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought!
I think the council does actually have to pay business rates on empty premises, so yes. Although business rates are collected by councils on behalf of Central Government, so there's no real local benefit.
[quote][p][bold]Nelly99[/bold] wrote: On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought![/p][/quote]I think the council does actually have to pay business rates on empty premises, so yes. Although business rates are collected by councils on behalf of Central Government, so there's no real local benefit. DannyK86
  • Score: 0

2:52pm Wed 12 Mar 14

jayman says...

well, Southends Tories do need to win this election. if anyone else gets their hands on the 'books' and the 'filing cabinets' they may discover some politically sensitive information. a bit like how the Tory central government didn't know the true state of things until they won the general election.

Quickly waste....oops. i mean 'invest' the money. :)
well, Southends Tories do need to win this election. if anyone else gets their hands on the 'books' and the 'filing cabinets' they may discover some politically sensitive information. a bit like how the Tory central government didn't know the true state of things until they won the general election. Quickly waste....oops. i mean 'invest' the money. :) jayman
  • Score: -15

5:41pm Wed 12 Mar 14

jolllyboy says...

Thank goodness James Courtenay had the sense not to be photod with this lot - grinning like cheshire cats. Not unusual for David Amess of course - when he isnt hiding that is.
Thank goodness James Courtenay had the sense not to be photod with this lot - grinning like cheshire cats. Not unusual for David Amess of course - when he isnt hiding that is. jolllyboy
  • Score: 6

7:12pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Joe Clark says...

shorty1964 wrote:
Nelly99 wrote:
On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought!
Hi,

I was under the impression that the old Library in Victoria Avenue is now occupied by the Beecroft Gallery which used to be situated in Station Road in Westcliff.
Lower and ground gallery, upper two business incubation centre.
[quote][p][bold]shorty1964[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Nelly99[/bold] wrote: On Sunday I walked past one of my favourite places in Southend for the past 20 years. (The old library.) I pondered on whether the council, who charge me full council tax on an unoccupied property charge themselves for leaving such a lovely building unoccupied? Just a thought![/p][/quote]Hi, I was under the impression that the old Library in Victoria Avenue is now occupied by the Beecroft Gallery which used to be situated in Station Road in Westcliff.[/p][/quote]Lower and ground gallery, upper two business incubation centre. Joe Clark
  • Score: 0

7:22pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Joe Clark says...

Carby & Heath Houses are both privately owned so the Council can not just storm in and do whatever they like with them, they have to follow a set procedure though the proper legal route, this will involve contacting the owners if that is not possible (you have to try more than once) then you can set the ball rolling on obtaining a CPO, if the owners appeal the order then you MUST go through the courts and wait for the process to run its course.

A major stumbling block is the funding of any such action, a fund of £8million has been set aside (check the SBC budget) to buy and demolish both Carby & Heath Houses however the owners could challenge the valuation which will again delay the process.

Why don't people try and educate themselves on the topic before posting, why because they expect others to do it for them.
Carby & Heath Houses are both privately owned so the Council can not just storm in and do whatever they like with them, they have to follow a set procedure though the proper legal route, this will involve contacting the owners if that is not possible (you have to try more than once) then you can set the ball rolling on obtaining a CPO, if the owners appeal the order then you MUST go through the courts and wait for the process to run its course. A major stumbling block is the funding of any such action, a fund of £8million has been set aside (check the SBC budget) to buy and demolish both Carby & Heath Houses however the owners could challenge the valuation which will again delay the process. Why don't people try and educate themselves on the topic before posting, why because they expect others to do it for them. Joe Clark
  • Score: 3

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