THE historic frontage of an old primary school will be preserved as part of a new housing development.
The Echo can reveal Tory chiefs at Southend Council have offered a property investor with a £6billion portfolio the first option to build on the former Hinguar Primary School site in Shoebury.
The authority has also reached a similar agreement with the same developer on a patch of derelict industrial land off Progress Road, Southend, which will be used for new offices.
However, it is the deal to protect the Victorian frontage of Hinguar, which stirred up a bitter battle between Independent campaigners and Tory sceptics last year, which has sparked the biggest celebrations.
Anne Chalk, an Independent councillor for Shoebury who led the bid to preserve the school, said: “It is a real success.
“Obviously we wanted to save the entire building, but that was not possible because a deal had already been done to sell the land.
“So, given the circumstances, saving the frontage is a real victory.”
Hinguar and the industrial centre land, which is at the end of Brunel Road, will be the first two sites targeted by the council under its partnership with BV Strategies.
The property investment firm agreed to set up a limited liability partnership with the authority last year, effectively creating a new development company split 50-50 between them.
BV will be responsible for pouring cash into the schemes, while the council will offer help in shaping a proposal likely to get the green light from the authority’s development control committee.
Once the projects are completed, the council will receive half of the profits from the sites, in the form of house sales or office rents However, when the partnership was formed last year, it was thought most of the sites earmarked for development would be in the town centre - part of the council’s £300million vision for regenerating the heart of the town.
Any schemes will still need to secure planning permission - and the consent of the full council at its meeting on December 13 - before they can go ahead.
Nigel Holdcroft, the Tory council leader, said: “We hope that, in the future, this partnership will provide an effective vehicle for a number of sites in the town centre, but initially we are looking to advance these two sites, which are in our ownership and which provide reasonably straightforward schemes.
“We are an equal partner in this partnership and have complete control over which of our sites we feel should be considered by it.”