Southend Central Area Action Plan

Ended on the 9th August 2010
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5. Spatial Options

Structure of Spatial Options

The three spatial development strategy options are:

Option 1: Strengthening the status quo;

Option 2: Reinforcing urban circuits; and

Option 3: City by the Sea.

5.1 Each option has the following structure:

  • Rationale: A brief explanation of the relationship between the option and the vision statement;
  • Evaluation of the option: A concise evaluation of the option in relation to the criteria set out above.

The Options Explained

Option 1: Strengthen the Status Quo

Rationale

5.2 Option 1 seeks to deliver the vision by strengthening existing assets with a view to promoting a step change in prosperity of core market sectors and town centre vibrancy.

5.3 The High Street option seeks to put the heart back into Southend, focusing on the existing town centre core – the High Street.

5.4 In addition to supporting the primacy of the High Street, this option consolidates the spine by enhancing the status and quality of surrounding sites including Elmer, Clifftown and sites on Chichester Road.

5.5 Seaway Car Park and Victoria Avenue are also enhanced in this option.

Evaluation of Option 1

Gateway

  • A more attractive place to live and work in and to visit
  • Create clear spatial plan for town centre
  • Promote good design
  • Promote sustainability

Fails to correct the principal causes of underperformance (it maintains the zonal approach and provides no correction to the retail circuit). As a consequence it provides no deliverable basis for capturing prospective demand (it does not create the conditions that will attract market investment of the type, or on the scale, of the quality, or in the locations needed).

Retail

  • Improve retail circuit
  • Assemble sites to improve plan form
  • Respond to forecast demand in core markets
  • Upgrade shopping precincts
  • Exploit SSBC ownership

This option does not address the extensive linear structure of the High Street or the retail theming of this – i.e. creating a core prime pitch. The concept of a ‘parallel’ High Street along Chichester road with retail placed on the bus station site would not be an attractive proposition for many multiple retailers as it does not provide the critical mass or a strong enough destination to change the retail and pedestrian flows.

Employment and Offices

  • Respond to forecast demand in core markets
  • Promote small office-based workspace
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

This option does not make sufficient allocation for office-based workspace and growth

Residential

  • Respond to forecast demand in core markets
  • Increase town centre population
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

Residential use is identified as a component of the uses on Victoria Avenue, but there is a concern that the level and location of residential use would not deliver the town centre vitality expected of a sustainable community.

Learning and Culture

  • Develop quality food/drink
  • Develop HE campus
  • Develop leisure
  • Develop culture
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

Option 1 supports the development of a quality food and drink offer focused in the High Street and Clifftown. However, there is a concern that there is an insufficient step change in the quality overall to achieve the desired shift. This option makes provision for a cultural hub at Farringdon and dispersed uses but there is a lack of critical mass of cultural and educational uses.

Leisure

  • Develop the leisure offer
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

Option 1 makes provision for leisure uses on Seaway. However the site is detached from the existing core town centre and seafront.

Public Realm and Movement

  • Improve access/connectivity
  • Develop railway stations as gateways
  • Improve link to/from Seafront
  • Stabilise Cliffs
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

This option makes small scale interventions to the public realm (e.g. cliff slips) but there is a sense that it is insufficiently radical in relation to links at Victoria Circus and Pier Hill.

Delivery

  • Assemble sites to improve plan form

This option is unlikely to achieve the step change within the town centre and would fail to create the necessary impetus to provide the spin-off benefits required to achieve wider regeneration. There is an insufficient level of intervention to implement the vision for the Plan.

Option 2: Enhance urban circuits

Rationale

5.6 Option 2 is more radical than option 1, seeking to reinforce and create a series of urban circuits. It is defined by a more comprehensive approach to the High Street and adjacent areas of opportunity on Chichester Road and London Road.

5.7 This option continues to support the Specialist Quarter in Clifftown, and also defines a hub for the University and cultural uses in the Elmer Square Area.

5.8 Victoria Avenue retains a civic and cultural role but takes on a new character as mixed use Quarter with workspace, local retail and residential uses.

5.9 Seaway car park is developed as a node between the High Street/Chichester retail circuit and the Seafront.

5.10 This option is also more radical in addressing issues and options on the seafront.

Evaluation of Option 2

Gateway

  • A more attractive place to live and work in and to visit
  • Create clear spatial plan for town centre
  • Promote good design
  • Promote sustainability

The retail circuit cannot be created without a significant third retail anchor, and therefore land on a scale and so configured as to allow for it and the connections with the existing retail provision. Simply ‘broadening’ the High Street will not fulfil the objective and is probably not deliverable as conceived in any case. The zonal problems are maintained and it is neither desirable nor feasible to create an alternative mixed use Quarter at Victoria.

Retail

  • Improve retail circuit
  • Assemble sites to improve plan form
  • Respond to forecast demand in core markets
  • Upgrade shopping precincts
  • Exploit SSBC ownership

For the width of the High Street to increase and be attractive to retailers, it is crucial to place an anchor within either the bus station or the Seaways site and not have a detached retail/leisure hub on the Seaways car park which would provide an isolated commercial area.

Employment and Offices

  • Respond to forecast demand in core markets
  • Promote small office-based workspace
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

Option 2 offers a better commercial option for the town by increasing the width of the High Street which will add value to the central retail area and open up Chichester Road.

Residential

  • Respond to forecast demand in core markets
  • Increase town centre population
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

This option is more comprehensive and does make provision for residential as part of a mix of uses – specifically in the broadened High Street area.

Learning and Culture

  • Develop quality food/drink
  • Develop HE campus
  • Develop leisure
  • Develop culture
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

This option provides better scope for an enhancement in the quality of the food and drink offer. However, concerns exist about the viability of the retail circuit and the detachment of retail and leisure on Seaways. There is also a concern relating to the provision of sites for ancillary educational functions and cultural attractions.

Leisure

  • Develop the leisure offer
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

The feasibility of leisure uses on Seaway car park is undermined by detachment from the retail; circuit. Enhanced connectivity at Pier Hill and new uses on the pier as well as more ambitious intervention on the seafront are very positive moves.

Public Realm and Movement

  • Improve access/connectivity
  • Develop railway stations as gateways
  • Improve link to/from Seafront
  • Stabilise Cliffs
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

This option implies better connectivity at Victoria Circus and public realm enhancements on the seafront. Connectivity with Seaways is an issue. The stabilisation of the Cliffs is more likely through the vehicle of cultural development on the slip site.

Delivery

  • Assemble sites to improve plan form

As noted above there is insufficient demand or critical mass to achieve the desired impacts

Option 3: City by the Sea

Rationale

5.11 Option 3 is a more holistic and comprehensive approach based on the concept of a ‘City by the Sea’. This option sees a series of new urban Quarters evolving and as such is the most ambitious of the three approaches.

5.12 Option 3 incorporates a strengthened retail spine but the retail circuits in this option are optimised through a more comprehensive approach to the Seaway site and Chichester Road.

5.13 Victoria Avenue takes on a new role with civic functions and mixed uses.

5.14 This option goes furthest in reducing severance

5.15 Regeneration and enhanced integration of the role and function of adjacent neighbourhoods

5.16 The Central Seafront is also treated more comprehensively with a new diagonal link bringing the Royals/Seaway area to life.

Evaluation of Option 3

Gateway

  • A more attractive place to live and work in and to visit
  • Create clear spatial plan for town centre
  • Promote good design
  • Promote sustainability

Creates a circuit with a strong third anchor, large enough to make a significant clawback of lost spending which also relates well to the boutique area, small office, more diverse evening economy market, creating conditions for stimulating further business growth. The link between Chichester Road and Seaway is a strong design feature.

Retail

  • Improve retail circuit
  • Assemble sites to improve plan form
  • Respond to forecast demand in core markets
  • Upgrade shopping precincts
  • Exploit SSBC ownership

To increase the width of the retail offer either side of the High Street, it is crucial to develop new anchor stores on sites that will be attractive to investors.

Employment and Offices

  • Respond to forecast demand in core markets
  • Promote small office-based workspace
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

Provides a setting for the north for creating the missing prime destination needed in the office market.

Residential

  • Respond to forecast demand in core markets
  • Increase town centre population
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

New housing accommodation brought forward where opportunities allow ensuring the Town Centre benefits from extra footfall, natural surveillance and safety (especially at night). Greater potential to deliver specialised and affordable housing needs and social infrastructure such as new green space/play areas through integration with adjacent neighbourhoods

Learning and Culture

  • Develop quality food/drink
  • Develop HE campus
  • Develop leisure
  • Develop culture
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

Provides scope for strong footfall between teaching and other facilities. Provides scope for growth of the Higher Education Institution offer, but without causing gaps in the creation of the town centre’s plan form while waiting for the HEI’s investment timetable.

Leisure

  • Develop the leisure offer
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

Relates well to the seafront providing impetus for integration with the seafront market. There is scope in the longer term for a shift in the leisure offer with more business, higher education and conference orientated attractions. Takes advantage of the seaside asset.

Public Realm and Movement

  • Improve access/connectivity
  • Develop railway stations as gateways
  • Improve link to/from Seafront
  • Stabilise Cliffs
  • Exploit SSBC land ownership

Develops a coordinated public realm where getting around on foot and on bicycle is made easier and more pleasant and attracts people away from using cars for short trips.

Delivery

  • Assemble sites to improve plan form

Takes full advantage of sites owned by the Council as basis for assembly of larger sites capable of attracting the type, scale and quality of investment needed. The development strategy would be capable of being divided up into deliverable complementary projects.

Preferred Spatial Option

5.17 Based on a thorough understanding of opportunities and constraints and consultation feedback to date, the preferred overarching rationale for the Southend Central Area Plan is the creation of a ‘City by the Sea’ – a change in the function and transformation in the quality of the town centre and seafront and renewal to the remaining parts of the Town Centre.

Option Box 5

(15) Are there any significant sustainability or viability reasons why the Borough Council should reject at this stage the City by the Sea option?

5.18 The remaining sections provide more details about Option 3.

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