Taxpayers to pay to rebuild town gateway

Southend Standard: Southend Council leader Nigel Holdcroft outside Heath and Carby houses Southend Council leader Nigel Holdcroft outside Heath and Carby houses

EMPTY office blocks that blight a main gateway to Southend could be bought up and knocked down with taxpayers’ cash.

Southend Council’s Tory administration plans to spend £8million flattening derelict offices that loom over Victoria Avenue in a bid to boost investment in the town.

Speaking as he unveiled the plan as part of the next financial year’s budget, council leader Nigel Holdcroft said: “We are fed to the back teeth of looking out over the road to the bomb zone running up Victoria Avenue.

“It is a blight for people coming into the town, in particular potential investors. “We have tried to work for many years to get action on the sites without success.”

The authority would work with a private partner to buy of the empty office blocks – forcing developers to sell up if necessary.

The eyesores would be demolished and the land sold off or leased to private firms to build new developments in a bid to recoup some of the costs.

If landowners are willing to sell some of the four empty office blocks, wrecking crews could move in soon.

But if compulsory purchase orders are necessary, the redevelopment could take longer.

The largest of the blocks, Heath and Carby houses, at the northern end of the row at the junction with Harcourt Avenue, are likely to be top of the list.

Mr Holdcroft revealed the owners of office block the Pinnacle revamped its reception area a few years ago in a bid to attract new occupants – but any investors were put off by the site of Heath and Carby houses nextdoor.

The Conservative leader, who revealed in an Echo interview last month ahead of him stepping down in May that the impasse over Victoria Avenue’s redevelopment was the one regret of his time in office, said: “This is an outward sign that we have had enough.

“Do something yourselves, or if you won’t and you won’t come and talk to us we will go down the route of compulsory purchase orders.”

Comments (16)

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6:09am Wed 15 Jan 14

Keptquiettillnow says...

So he is leaving in May and wants a private company in to do his last job asap. HMMM
So he is leaving in May and wants a private company in to do his last job asap. HMMM Keptquiettillnow
  • Score: 11

8:29am Wed 15 Jan 14

Old Southendian says...

Another one of those grandiose Southend schemes, but will it ever happen?
I've so many of them come and go in the past. Don't hold your breath!
Another one of those grandiose Southend schemes, but will it ever happen? I've so many of them come and go in the past. Don't hold your breath! Old Southendian
  • Score: 11

9:10am Wed 15 Jan 14

Wendy, Westcliff says...

Too late now but the University buildings and accommodation should have been built in Victoria Avenue, it was obvious at the time. Not sure that the Council would have liked to look at those buildings from their offices though!

The college recently built on school playing fields in Prittlewell Chase could have been built in Victoria Avenue. The Council turned down an application to turn part of one of the derelict office blocks into a care home a few years ago - they need to realise that the days of Victoria Avenue being a commerce area are long gone.
Too late now but the University buildings and accommodation should have been built in Victoria Avenue, it was obvious at the time. Not sure that the Council would have liked to look at those buildings from their offices though! The college recently built on school playing fields in Prittlewell Chase could have been built in Victoria Avenue. The Council turned down an application to turn part of one of the derelict office blocks into a care home a few years ago - they need to realise that the days of Victoria Avenue being a commerce area are long gone. Wendy, Westcliff
  • Score: 19

9:12am Wed 15 Jan 14

Nebs says...

...........a bid to recoup some of the costs.

Nigel, property developers make money. Rather than recouping some of the costs you should be recouping all of the costs plus some profit.
...........a bid to recoup some of the costs. Nigel, property developers make money. Rather than recouping some of the costs you should be recouping all of the costs plus some profit. Nebs
  • Score: 19

10:35am Wed 15 Jan 14

Nowthatsworthknowing says...

Old Southendian wrote:
Another one of those grandiose Southend schemes, but will it ever happen?
I've so many of them come and go in the past. Don't hold your breath!
Bit like the Pier, though they got over that, by putting a warehouse, at the end and giving it a regal name...
[quote][p][bold]Old Southendian[/bold] wrote: Another one of those grandiose Southend schemes, but will it ever happen? I've so many of them come and go in the past. Don't hold your breath![/p][/quote]Bit like the Pier, though they got over that, by putting a warehouse, at the end and giving it a regal name... Nowthatsworthknowing
  • Score: 11

11:13am Wed 15 Jan 14

Southend Andy says...

People these buildings are privately owned, the council have no power over the owners, unless they do a cpo. People will winge if the council do something & will still complain if they don't. If this is all you have to complain about then lucky you.
People these buildings are privately owned, the council have no power over the owners, unless they do a cpo. People will winge if the council do something & will still complain if they don't. If this is all you have to complain about then lucky you. Southend Andy
  • Score: 8

11:36am Wed 15 Jan 14

Stamper2 says...

Maybe they can deal with the LAindon Centre next.............
Maybe they can deal with the LAindon Centre next............. Stamper2
  • Score: 4

12:37pm Wed 15 Jan 14

abd123 says...

'People these buildings are privately owned, the council have no power over the owners, unless they do a cpo'

Not so. Research section 215 Town & Country Planning Act 1990. Used in other areas to clear derelict sites.
'People these buildings are privately owned, the council have no power over the owners, unless they do a cpo' Not so. Research section 215 Town & Country Planning Act 1990. Used in other areas to clear derelict sites. abd123
  • Score: 4

12:44pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Howard Cháse says...

They need someone to play the Laindon Hotel Gambit.


That'll hasten the demolition.
They need someone to play the Laindon Hotel Gambit. That'll hasten the demolition. Howard Cháse
  • Score: 3

1:22pm Wed 15 Jan 14

jayman says...

I think the council have the wrong idea about urban development. its supposed to be 'brown field' not 'brown envelope' sites...

silly Tory council..
I think the council have the wrong idea about urban development. its supposed to be 'brown field' not 'brown envelope' sites... silly Tory council.. jayman
  • Score: 8

1:58pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Southend Andy says...

jayman wrote:
I think the council have the wrong idea about urban development. its supposed to be 'brown field' not 'brown envelope' sites...

silly Tory council..
why am I not surprised to see a Labour lover winge at the Tory council.
[quote][p][bold]jayman[/bold] wrote: I think the council have the wrong idea about urban development. its supposed to be 'brown field' not 'brown envelope' sites... silly Tory council..[/p][/quote]why am I not surprised to see a Labour lover winge at the Tory council. Southend Andy
  • Score: -8

3:38pm Wed 15 Jan 14

emcee says...

Quote: "The eyesores would be demolished and the land sold off or leased to private firms to build new developments in a bid to recoup some of the costs."
-
What is there to stop one eyesore being removed and another taking it's place? I only ask because we have seen several recent developments in Southend that are no better than what they replaced and can, in some cases, be considered ugly in their design.
If you want to attract investment to the town you need a town that is welcoming and friendly with residents who are content with life and not frigtened to go out for fear of being mugged or stabbed.

To do that this town needs:

1. to have zero tolerence on crime.

2. a strategy for increasing employment including regeneration, on a massive scale, of the town centre shopping experience.

3. a massive overhaul of its transport strategy and needs to create a radical public transport strategy.

4. a huge rebuild of it recreational status. Southend was once a byword for entertainment and recreation. Now all we have to show are handfull of drug user and dog cr*p infested parks, a shed we call a cultural centre at the end a a big jetty, a few slot arcades and overpriced amusement park on the seafront, an over-priced cinema and very little else.

There are far more crucial things which will attract investment into the town than the turning old office blocks into overpriced blocks of flats or even more offiice blocks. In recent times this town's councils have based strategies on obtaining more income to squander on their own fat cat bosses, for their own political agendas, and for paying business friends massive consultancy and development fees rather that base strategies on the long term investment in the town.

I would be more impressed if they knocked down all the derelict sites and turned them into open plan public gardens. I would consider that a better spend of our taxes than allowing private developers to profit from our hard earned money.
Quote: "The eyesores would be demolished and the land sold off or leased to private firms to build new developments in a bid to recoup some of the costs." - What is there to stop one eyesore being removed and another taking it's place? I only ask because we have seen several recent developments in Southend that are no better than what they replaced and can, in some cases, be considered ugly in their design. If you want to attract investment to the town you need a town that is welcoming and friendly with residents who are content with life and not frigtened to go out for fear of being mugged or stabbed. To do that this town needs: 1. to have zero tolerence on crime. 2. a strategy for increasing employment including regeneration, on a massive scale, of the town centre shopping experience. 3. a massive overhaul of its transport strategy and needs to create a radical public transport strategy. 4. a huge rebuild of it recreational status. Southend was once a byword for entertainment and recreation. Now all we have to show are handfull of drug user and dog cr*p infested parks, a shed we call a cultural centre at the end a a big jetty, a few slot arcades and overpriced amusement park on the seafront, an over-priced cinema and very little else. There are far more crucial things which will attract investment into the town than the turning old office blocks into overpriced blocks of flats or even more offiice blocks. In recent times this town's councils have based strategies on obtaining more income to squander on their own fat cat bosses, for their own political agendas, and for paying business friends massive consultancy and development fees rather that base strategies on the long term investment in the town. I would be more impressed if they knocked down all the derelict sites and turned them into open plan public gardens. I would consider that a better spend of our taxes than allowing private developers to profit from our hard earned money. emcee
  • Score: 27

5:11pm Wed 15 Jan 14

jolllyboy says...

Well said Wendy and keptquiettillnow.
perhaps he will stand for MP next............
Meantime having worked at Heath House and can say it would have made excellent flats . A wasted opportunity. Vic Ave is a wind tunnel with the high rise buildings. They started as housing, then commerce, now they want a car park and whatever. No wonder we are fed up with them not making up their minds what they want the town to be.
Well said Wendy and keptquiettillnow. perhaps he will stand for MP next............ Meantime having worked at Heath House and can say it would have made excellent flats . A wasted opportunity. Vic Ave is a wind tunnel with the high rise buildings. They started as housing, then commerce, now they want a car park and whatever. No wonder we are fed up with them not making up their minds what they want the town to be. jolllyboy
  • Score: 13

6:41pm Wed 15 Jan 14

You'dfeelbetterforknowingthat says...

Either way Southend will always shine through, I used to own a bakers in the town, and at the end of the day, nothing stays the same.
On a lighter note, and without joining the hoards of moaners here, Southend has always been the jewel in the crown.
Either way Southend will always shine through, I used to own a bakers in the town, and at the end of the day, nothing stays the same. On a lighter note, and without joining the hoards of moaners here, Southend has always been the jewel in the crown. You'dfeelbetterforknowingthat
  • Score: -3

10:12pm Wed 15 Jan 14

joe2345 says...

emcee wrote:
Quote: "The eyesores would be demolished and the land sold off or leased to private firms to build new developments in a bid to recoup some of the costs."
-
What is there to stop one eyesore being removed and another taking it's place? I only ask because we have seen several recent developments in Southend that are no better than what they replaced and can, in some cases, be considered ugly in their design.
If you want to attract investment to the town you need a town that is welcoming and friendly with residents who are content with life and not frigtened to go out for fear of being mugged or stabbed.

To do that this town needs:

1. to have zero tolerence on crime.

2. a strategy for increasing employment including regeneration, on a massive scale, of the town centre shopping experience.

3. a massive overhaul of its transport strategy and needs to create a radical public transport strategy.

4. a huge rebuild of it recreational status. Southend was once a byword for entertainment and recreation. Now all we have to show are handfull of drug user and dog cr*p infested parks, a shed we call a cultural centre at the end a a big jetty, a few slot arcades and overpriced amusement park on the seafront, an over-priced cinema and very little else.

There are far more crucial things which will attract investment into the town than the turning old office blocks into overpriced blocks of flats or even more offiice blocks. In recent times this town's councils have based strategies on obtaining more income to squander on their own fat cat bosses, for their own political agendas, and for paying business friends massive consultancy and development fees rather that base strategies on the long term investment in the town.

I would be more impressed if they knocked down all the derelict sites and turned them into open plan public gardens. I would consider that a better spend of our taxes than allowing private developers to profit from our hard earned money.
I agree "eyesore" is a matter of opinion - besides, buildings are meant to be functional first, if they are attractive as well it's a bonus. Blocks of flats and office blocks are always going to look like that because of technical reasons - If you try to make a building into a work of art, it becomes less functional usually.

There was a picture of basildon in the echo some weeks ago, it showed the town centre with lots of green - it looked lovely, very welcoming and non-threatning. Now there is literally no green space in Basildon Town centre. The nearby park and lake are being covered in concrete - Southend is heading the same way.

Nigel doesn't want to invest in the community, he just wants to bankroll the private companies - these "investors" just buy up buildings and housing and charge sky high rents, promise affordable housing, back out on it - and then complain when their "investments" don't give them "returns". People trying to buy have to compete with the BTL - almost half of the properties in southend are privately rented.

When anyone talks about "investing" in the town, they are really taking about the bank balances of these massive investment companies.
[quote][p][bold]emcee[/bold] wrote: Quote: "The eyesores would be demolished and the land sold off or leased to private firms to build new developments in a bid to recoup some of the costs." - What is there to stop one eyesore being removed and another taking it's place? I only ask because we have seen several recent developments in Southend that are no better than what they replaced and can, in some cases, be considered ugly in their design. If you want to attract investment to the town you need a town that is welcoming and friendly with residents who are content with life and not frigtened to go out for fear of being mugged or stabbed. To do that this town needs: 1. to have zero tolerence on crime. 2. a strategy for increasing employment including regeneration, on a massive scale, of the town centre shopping experience. 3. a massive overhaul of its transport strategy and needs to create a radical public transport strategy. 4. a huge rebuild of it recreational status. Southend was once a byword for entertainment and recreation. Now all we have to show are handfull of drug user and dog cr*p infested parks, a shed we call a cultural centre at the end a a big jetty, a few slot arcades and overpriced amusement park on the seafront, an over-priced cinema and very little else. There are far more crucial things which will attract investment into the town than the turning old office blocks into overpriced blocks of flats or even more offiice blocks. In recent times this town's councils have based strategies on obtaining more income to squander on their own fat cat bosses, for their own political agendas, and for paying business friends massive consultancy and development fees rather that base strategies on the long term investment in the town. I would be more impressed if they knocked down all the derelict sites and turned them into open plan public gardens. I would consider that a better spend of our taxes than allowing private developers to profit from our hard earned money.[/p][/quote]I agree "eyesore" is a matter of opinion - besides, buildings are meant to be functional first, if they are attractive as well it's a bonus. Blocks of flats and office blocks are always going to look like that because of technical reasons - If you try to make a building into a work of art, it becomes less functional usually. There was a picture of basildon in the echo some weeks ago, it showed the town centre with lots of green - it looked lovely, very welcoming and non-threatning. Now there is literally no green space in Basildon Town centre. The nearby park and lake are being covered in concrete - Southend is heading the same way. Nigel doesn't want to invest in the community, he just wants to bankroll the private companies - these "investors" just buy up buildings and housing and charge sky high rents, promise affordable housing, back out on it - and then complain when their "investments" don't give them "returns". People trying to buy have to compete with the BTL - almost half of the properties in southend are privately rented. When anyone talks about "investing" in the town, they are really taking about the bank balances of these massive investment companies. joe2345
  • Score: 1

11:35am Thu 16 Jan 14

jayman says...

Southend council's, top floor civic centre vista is of utmost priority.
Southend council's, top floor civic centre vista is of utmost priority. jayman
  • Score: 1

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