“The world has changed”: Southend Council drops £10m pier pavilion plan

Southend Pier development plans shelved
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With the civic response to Coronavirus draining development funds, Southend Council has shelved plans for a £10m pavilion at the entrance to the UK’s longest pier, favouring instead a concentrated investment in the pierhead.

 

Southend Council has been forced to shelve plans for a new £10m pavilion at the entrance to Southend Pier following the impact of Coronavirus on public project funding.

Originally part of a strategy to renovate both ends of the pier in line with the Southend 2050 vision, plans to re-purpose the former AMF bowling alley platform have now been scrapped.

“It’s sad for the pier and it’s very sad to see,” deputy mayor Mark Flewitt told The Echo. “Both ends of the pier are essential. We’re running away from doing something about it.”

“Unfortunately, Covid has made the vision redundant. The council needs to decide what is doable and what isn’t. The virus had made finances much more difficult than was first thought.”

Plans for the new landward pavilion had included relocating the nearby pier museum into the new development, freeing up the museum building to become “a London Dungeon type attraction.”

However, priority will now be given to refurbishing the pierhead, with the council’s member for business, culture and tourism Kevin Robinson, stating “we want to make sure that when people step off the pier trains there are things to do at the end of the pier.” “We have to be financially prudent.

We have to decide whether we want to spread finances thin and revamp both ends of the pier, or focus taxpayers’ money on one part of it.”

The decision to halt redevelopment plans for the landward end are also a result of uncertainty as to whether social distancing measures will still be in place come 2022 – the predicted year of completion – and what requirements will be for new facilities if distancing rules apply.

The fate of the pier pavilion mirrors that of Forum II, an £18m project between South Essex College and Southend Council intended to create a new educational campus in the town, with leader of the council Ian Gilbert stating the scheme “has not been able to proceed how we would have wanted.”

“The world has changed and we need to make sure what we’re doing makes the most financial sense.”


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