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Double blow to plans for £35m seafront museum
GRAND plans for a £35million museum on Southend seafront have been rocked by a two-punch combo from campaigners.
After a late legal objection caused Southend Council to postpone the proposals at the eleventh hour last month, officials have now been forced to ask for a fresh report on the possible impacts of the development.
And their ambitions were buffeted further by the news that more than 1,500 people have signed a petition opposing the plans – enough to trigger a debate in full council.
Charlotte Raven, one of the leading campaigners, said: “It’s certainly a step, or two, in the right direction. We are hopeful we can continue to press for the council to see sense.
“There are so many other, more worthy places this museum could be built.”
The council hoped to secure planning permission for the museum, which would be sunk into the cliff gardens above Western Esplanade, last month.
However, it was forced to withdraw the plans after protesters, led by the Clifftown Conservation Association, pointed out it had not completed an environmental screening report.
The technical blueprint requires the council to assess whether the plans would have any negative impact on the wildlife, vegetation and heritage of the museum site.
Bosses have now requested the screening is carried out and the issue of planning permission reconsidered as soon as possible.
A council spokesman said: “The report is due to be completed by July 2, although we anticipate finishing before then.”
However, campaigners have also been busy gathering hundreds of names for their petition.
If all the signatories are proved to be Southend taxpayers, the 1,500-strong petition will trigger a fresh debate on the museum proposals at the next full council meeting, on July 19. Ms Raven said: “The petition shows there is a groundswell of opinion against this idea. There are so many other places – like the old gasworks site or Victoria Avenue – which are in much more need of this sort of investment.”