Plans to build a new £6million specialist college have been given the go-ahead.

The Forum 2 will be dedicated to performing arts students, artists and chefs - and will be built on Elmer Approach, next to the Forum library.

Students will benefit from a teaching kitchen and restaurant, music recording studio, exhibition space and digital art workshop.

There will also be three performance studios plus meeting rooms.

The ambitious scheme represents a joint venture between Southend Council and South Essex College and while the college will use the building most of the time, the council will allow businesses to hire workspaces, meeting rooms and seminar rooms.

Plans were given the go-ahead by Southend’s Development Control Committee yesterday afternoon. Councillors unanimously agreed to grant planning permission.

Delighted Angela O’Donoghue, principal of South Essex College, said: “The new centre will help to increase the popular digital, media, music and performing arts offer in Southend and provide the town with a facility benefitting students as well as the local community.” Planning documents stated the base will further establish Elmer Square as the centre of Southend’s further and higher education offer.

It added: “The library will provide a modern integrated centre of learning and research that meets the varied needs and requirement of residents, students, business people and visitors alike.

“Users benefit from a cluster of learning, research and cultural facilities located within the heart of the town centre served by excellent public transport links.”

The council received ten objections from residents particularly concerned about the lack of public consultation - and the building being “overbearing”.

Speaking at the meeting, a council officer acknowledged the building would be close to neighbouring properties, but noted this was unavoidable in a built-up area.

The council is providing £2.7million of the cost with the college providing the rest.