w/c 24 February 2020
Just last February, the BID issued a press release concerning the controversial proposal to redevelop the Seaway car park in Lucy Road, into a new leisure complex.
In that release, we gave the headline figures from a survey conducted amongst our levy payers, asking two simple questions: ‘Do you support the proposed Turnstone development of the Seaway car park: Yes, or no?’ and - given that a significant amount of parking bays would be removed as part of the project – ‘Would you support the development, but with no less than the current number of parking spaces?’
A total of 183 businesses responded, 53% of the total in the BID zone itself. Of that total, 115 (63%) were in favour of the scheme going ahead, leaving 57 (or 31%) against it.
Answering the second question, 11 levy payers (6% of the overall number) said they would back the scheme, if it could provide the same amount of parking spaces.
Given those statistics, Southend BID decided to release a statement saying it supported the Seaway development going ahead.
Twelve months later, work has yet to get underway. As I said in the opening line, it is indeed controversial. In a recent meeting I had with a local business owner, he asked what sort of message did the lack of activity send out to potential investors in the town?
The High Street, town centre and seafront are collectively designated the Business Improvement District. However, constant arguing leads to inertia and if we allow this to continue, especially in these challenging times, developers will take their money elsewhere. Leaving us with little business or improvement, which is especially worrying in a climate and place where online retailing, business rates and increased competition from out-of-town leisure and retail facilities are only adding to the pressure already felt by company owners, their staff and customers. In other words, you.
- Suzanne Gloyne