Southend Central Area Action Plan

Representation ID: 828

Received: 13/08/2010

Respondent: Conservation Association Westcliff Seaboard (CAWS)

Representation Summary:

21a, 21b, 21c(iii)

Full text:

General Comments
A1) Unique Victorian and Edwardian streetscape and vistas - Need to be very carefully preserved - Both short views and long views - In the High Street, there are still some key well designed upper stories with features we will not see again.

A2) We believe that our 'lost community spirit in our towns and cities today is caused by a lack of identification with an area. Everything runs into everything else, except from wholly identifiable areas (e.g. Leigh-on-Sea, Milton). Identifying current 'community areas' and new ones and building their identities will, we believe lead individuals toward a closer community feeling and more mutual co-operation and interest.

A3) We do need to focus on the small design and 'bottom-up thinking', as well as on the 'grand designs'. It will be the availability of smaller, specialist shops and the uniqueness of their setting, which will distinguish Southend as a 'special shopping' centre, instead of just, another town centre.

A4) 'Tall' buildings are not necessarily the right approach to an iconic town centre. Visitors will not come to Southend to view the tall buildings, they will come to see 'something different' that they cannot find in Chelmsford, or Basildon, or Bluewater, etc. It's creating that 'special buzz' - Like the lanes in Brighton, or for new build - Gehry's unique buildings. The bland square-box glass designs just won't do it - Although excellent buildings with sea vistas just might.

Specific Comments
2.11 We believe that there is a great opportunity to revive Hamlet Court Road as a special shopping centre again. It has the character, but it is presently over-burdened with restaurants. A mixed use would enhance the whole Westcliff area.
2.14 We believe that this has been missing recently. Building which involve people inter-action (covered walkways, shops at street level) are vastly preferable to blank glass walls. Building like this - just fill the space - They don't offer new interesting space.
3.4 (See A1-A4 general comments above) Tall is not necessarily good - 'smart' is better.
3.10 'Bulky food outlets sounds like a recipe for disaster - Opportunities for smaller, distinct, specialist restaurants give us 'differentiation' - Otherwise we are in danger of creating 'Basildon-on-Sea'.
3.11 Southend should perhaps consider taking a development route which is focused on new high-tech opportunities (Nano technology, Green technology) linked into our educational future focus. This could act as a magnet for incoming investment, which can start on a small-scale and be housed in a new 'nursery' units in and around Southend Airport (and possibly on ex-military sites at Shoeburyness). It could also magnify the educational focus greatly.

(Obviously 3.15 supports this).

Option Box 1: 'Yes', although there is a great danger of buildings for buildings sake - Bulk outlets', Tall buildings, are a big red danger area.
Option Box 2: 'Yes', identification of micro-sites e.g: High Street opposite the Royals on the North to Alexander Road - This is a unique site forming a 'min-lanes' area - similar to Brighton. Another option is development of the Kursal as a 'Covent Garden type' mini centre, but it would need good strong links back to the High Street, or development of the 'Golden Mile' as retail/restaurants area. A diagonal road would also help if it stretched to the Kursal and opened up that vista, perhaps as a wide, stepped pedestrian avenue, with shops.
Option Box 3: 'Yes', bearing in mind 'micro planning' for people's enjoyment and 'bottom-up thinking' which meets 'top down thinking'.
Option Box 4: 'Yes', except I would add options under Employment and Offices to promote: Small combined shops, with workshop space behind the shops to encourage artisans to create, train and sell unique designs in Southend. Plus, also the creation of small design development workshops to enable small-scale advanced technology prototyping.
Option Box 5: No. This looks like the best option, provided it doesn't lead to 'meaningless' over-development. If a key focus is on 'new quarters' and centres of interest, without the 'soulless' blank walls (Glass or brick). The balance between 'city' and 'town' is 'interesting' and worrying - Expanding the feel of Southend, without losing its heart and integrity would seem to be a strong challenge.
6.15 We are against tall landmarks on the water's edge. This destroys the 'horizontal nature' of the coast and suggests a Costa- Del-Sol - type approach. A really awful example is the 'Nirvanha' building on the Western Esplanade, which has significantly downgraded the whole area and the long coastal views too.
Option Box 6: Maybe, or it could deliver 'Basildon-on-Sea' unless it is very well thought through as a quality, pedestrian experience.
Option Box 7: 7a
Option Box 8: 8a, 8b, 8d
Option Box 9: 9b
Option Box 10: 10a
Option Box 12: The car Park tends to be a 'dead area', but the gardens are uplifting, perhaps a similar 'look' for the street on the other side (s), would transform that street. At the moment it is a car park, 'concrete' area. Certainly a green swathe with trees would make a difference.
Option Box 13: The ideas here are good so long as a 'village' feel can be created with 'pedestrian scaled' buildings and squares - Sounds very good, as this area does have a 'down energy'.
Option Box 14: 14b
Option Box 15: This area requires great care in order to retain the best of its Victorian/Edwardian, even Georgian feel. Further development could possibly destroy its unique feel.
Option Box 16: 16a (i0, 16a (iv), 16e (Combination)
Option Box 17: 17a & 17b & 17c
Option Box 18: 18a, 18c, 18e
Option Box 19: 19b
Option Box 20: 20c, 20d, 20e
Option Box 21: 21a, 21b, 21c(iii)
Option Box 22: Yes
Option Box 23: 23a, 23b (Mixed Approach)
Option Box 24: 24b & 24c
Option 25: 25c
Option 26: Locally evaluated per area, as required
Option 27: 27b