The council’s cabinet has approved more investment into four key projects (Tuesday 14 June, cabinet).
As part of the council’s commitment to the regeneration of the City Centre, £2m will be used to refurbish parts of The Victoria Centre. This investment will fund improvements to the atrium and Queensway roof, refurbishment to the building exterior, subdivide units for incoming new businesses and see the installation of a new goods lift and car park payment system.
Up to £1.6m will be allocated to build new cafes on East Beach, Shoebury. It is anticipated that three will be built in total depending on demand, with the option to start with two and add a third in future. In addition £500,000 will fund a new surfaced car park at East Beach to support the investment already made into new paths, lighting, CCTV, toilets, widening the vehicle entrances and installing a height barrier and vehicle flow plates. Finally, just over £300,000 will be used to extend the High Street bollards project to Marine Parade.
The report also details how £7.2m was invested in Airport Business Park Southend last year, with £6.2m towards construction of The Launchpad.
The Launchpad sits at the entrance to Airport Business Park Southend (ABPS) and will champion real innovation in the area for start-ups and SME's. Three storeys in height, it will contain a mix of offices, workshops, research facilities and break out spaces, along with a café and seminar space.
Cllr Paul Collins, cabinet member for asset management and inward investment, says: “Our ambition to continue to invest in economic recovery, help create jobs and deliver regeneration across the city is not diminished despite the financial challenges we face.
“Despite those challenges, it is important that we continue to invest in the City and create the conditions for local businesses to thrive and people to have access to local jobs. Investing in The Victoria Centre and East Beach are two great examples of where we are doing exactly that across the area, along with other projects like Airport Business Park Southend, a vital project that is already driving opportunity, prosperity and economic growth of both Southend-on-Sea and the wider region. It is creating more local employment, and providing opportunities for local business to expand and new ones to invest.”
Speaking about The Victoria Centre, Cllr Collins said: “Since we took over The Victoria Centre in December 2020 and showed our intent to support the regeneration of the city centre, we have seen a number of new and varied business uses open up, including the new blood unit, the indoor climbing centre, a new climate hub, and two further units.
“Our potential lettings are exciting and will further increase its use and attract more people to The Victoria Centre and City Centre in general, as well as providing further job opportunities for local people.
“The Council is continuing to invest in the building and this work aligns with the Council’s objective when we bought it - to revitalise the Centre and the High Street, by creating a more vibrant and mixed-use scheme rather than relying solely on traditional retail uses.”
The cabinet report will now continue through the council’s democratic cycle of meetings.