Southend Central Area Action Plan (SCAAP) - Revised Proposed Submission 2016

Representation ID: 2498

Received: 05/12/2016

Respondent: Havens

Representation Summary:

The success of the Seafront development is dependent on the provision and planning for Car Parking. Increase visitors means increase Car parking.
Signage for the towns facilities should be consistently featured on A13 and A127. Not just for directional but promoting what we have for the visitor to see.

Full text:

Dear Councillors,

At a recent SBTP executive meeting I heard issues raised and responses from the Town Planning department on the critical issues concerning the Scaap.
As a company we have traded in the Southend Borough since 1901 and have seen many changes not just physical and social in Southend but in Business terms too.

Let me give you my own personal thoughts on the town of which we are all very proud. Over the last 5/10 years Southend Council, supported by many agencies has managed to attract more funding than many other areas and some great developments have taken place.

I believe the strength of Southend is in our Tourism, Leisure, Culture, Arts and Education. Sadly as a retailer, it is not a retail destination and given Chelmsford's recent Bond Street development I think you will find it hard to knock them off the perch as the counties top town centre shopping destination. John Lewis are the anchor and with that other adjacencies like Jo Malone, The White Company and other luxury/ mid market retailers have the confidence to support the development.

What retailers need is footfall and there is no magic wand to achieve this apart from having the Shops and business that people want to visit.

I therefore firmly believe that Tourism which is the art of bringing in non resident visitors is the key to the success and regeneration of our town.

People clearly will visit our seafront and the more we do to enhance that with Restaurants, Cafes, Attractions, Music, Fireworks, Car Shows, Street Food Markets, Craft Beer, Museum, the more they will come for the day.
Once they are here you then have half a chance of them percolating around the rest of the Borough. This tourist pound then revitalises our local economy and in turn local businesses and particularly retailers will see the benefits.

The other key is keeping Adventure Island on board. I know Philip Miller and I recognise that his direct approach can be challenging for committee orientated Council decision making, but at the end of the day he has invested significant amounts of money at great risk to his company in the Tourism market which I do not reckon anyone else would have had the resources, capability nor tenacity to do.

Adventure Island is the focal point and if I were the Council I would have someone directly consulting with him and facilitate where reasonably possible his future investment.

At the SBTP executive meeting he publically intimated that he was going to stop investing in the town which is potentially disastrous for the key driver going forward.

My understanding is that his main gripe is car parking and road infrastructure. As a business man I have to tell you that car parking is critical to the success or failure of any project and investment when you want to attract consumers. It is the oxygen. Rather than be car unfriendly we need to look at practical solutions of recognising that the car is vital to the success of the projects - it brings the footfall to us.

Bond Street in Chelmsford created an additional 288 car parking spaces underground. Look at Bluewater and Lakeside built around car parks. Free to boot! That is what potential visitors and customers expect and if it is not available they will go elsewhere. Sadly we only have to look at our own travel and parking habits.

Far from reducing car parking space, consideration must be given to how much extra parking might be required given a lift in visitor numbers and the location is also critical - Lazy UK Adult will not want to have to walk too far.

It is unrealistic to think we can change people's travelling habits, it is reasonable to hope that some might use the trains and by all means this should be encouraged.

It is very difficult to compare Southend's connectivity with many other towns or Cities. Few have just one direction of entry in our case from the West.

Another major issue is sign posting. We should have sign posting on the A127 and the A13. Large brown signs directing people to our magnificent facilities should start at the boundary and follow on consistently along those two roads. It will serve both as a directional aid and importantly market the attractions to the visitor.

Please listen to the local businesses, it is us who know what potentially will and will not work commercially in the town and the requirements to facilitate this.

Working in partnership will lead to the successful regeneration of our town. The start has been positive let's carry on the good work together.

Yours sincerely,

Nigel Havens

Managing Director