Updated 7th July 2020
At last night’s Place Scrutiny Committee Conservative councillors caused a delay to the Better Queensway plans by criticising the proposed new layout of the roads at the Queensway / Southchurch Road junction and voting for them to be looked at again by the Cabinet.
Those objections are despite the fact that the layout in its planned form was agreed and formally signed off when the Conservatives were in power – by the very councillors who are objecting to it now. One of the objectors, Cllr Kevin Buck (Conservative, Prittlewell) admitted at last night’s meeting that the cabinet at that time “did not understand” what they had signed off and thought that the plans, which also included a diagram of the new road configuration, were referring only to the re-siting of the pedestrian underpass.
The Leader of the Council, Labour’s Ian Gilbert, criticised the Tories at the meeting for making objections now, to a part of the plans they’d previously approved, just for party political reasons and causing delays which are detrimental to the town’s residents.
He said: “Clearly I don’t know what was said by the previous cabinet in private but there is nothing on the public record as far as I can see that expresses unease about the highway configuration. The decision rests with cabinet and given that highways was a topic of discussion around Queensway for so long I find it inconceivable nobody in the cabinet then asked questions about how the highways layout was going to work. I cannot believe a cabinet member did not ask the most basic of questions around that. It defies comprehension.”
The Cabinet will meet on 28th July, where it is hoped to get the plans back on track and to gain approval at a later meeting of the full Council. The current plans for the entire development include considerably more genuinely-affordable housing than was the case under the Conservative administration.
Published 18th June 2020
Proposals for the Better Queensway regeneration project were outlined yesterday in a series of briefings and a newsletter delivered to residents on the estate.
The proposals will be considered by the council’s shareholder board next week (Shareholder Board, Thursday 25th June) prior to being put to the Council’s Place Scrutiny Committee on 6th July..
It is an opportunity for Porters Place Southend-on-Sea LLP to formally present the plans and compare them with the original requirements set out in the procurement process and the objectives for the scheme in the initial business plan.
This is an important part of the democratic process and the final stage before the hybrid planning application can be submitted by the LLP.
We have said repeatedly how important the Better Queensway project is for the future of our town and its residents. Seven years of hard work has led us to this point and an initial planning application is to be submitted very soon.
We need to be sure the project still delivers what we intended and especially in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, we need to be sure that it can be delivered on time and on budget. As 50/50 shareholders with Swan Housing Association, we have a responsibility to make sure we are doing everything we can to fulfil our obligations, while protecting the project and looking after the interests of our residents.
A commitment was made by the Council in February 2019 to maximise the number of affordable homes within the scheme, and I am therefore very pleased to say that we will be delivering on that. As a partnership we are working on a memorandum of understanding to provide at least 100 more socially rented properties to the numbers proposed in this report. This would mean the scheme delivering over 600 affordable homes for local people, of which a high proportion will be social rent.
The key points outlined in the proposals are as follows:
❖Around 1,669 homes, of which 512 will be affordable homes (31% affordable).
❖A range of building heights and types, ranging from three to 18 storeys of residential accommodation.
❖Every new home to have private outside space with a garden, a terrace or a balcony, depending on location.
❖Parking spaces increased from the current ratio of 0.25 per home, to 0.7 spaces per home.
❖Three new key public green spaces, including a new Station Plaza.
❖The road layout of Queensway brought up to surface level, with a tree lined highway retaining four lanes of traffic.
❖New dedicated off-street cycle lanes and pedestrian walkways on each side of the Queensway.
❖A mix of flexible, commercial, enterprise and cultural space to complement the town centre and support the future residents of the new scheme.
❖Environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions to improve energy efficiency for the estate, including electric vehicle charging points and sustainable urban drainage systems.
Quantock would be the first tower block to be demolished, subject to planning application approval.
In addition, a memorandum of understanding is being drawn up for an extra 100 socially rented homes.
Published 20th February 2020
This development will deliver better housing, a better environment and better lives for residents. But to make sure the focus remains on those people who need help most, it will require continued Labour leadership. I can only do that with your continued help and support.
I have always made clear that our first priority is the existing residents of Queensway. Usually major changes provoke worry and uncertainty, but my sense of every gathering of existing residents is that a large majority want this scheme to progress, and quickly.
All existing residents will have the right to a property in the new development on the same terms and conditions as now. Every dwelling, of whatever type of tenure, will have out-door amenity space be it a balcony or terrace garden.
Today I can announce that with those mechanisms we can go up to 612 ‘affordable’ homes and that a large majority of them will be social rented. I’m absolutely confident we can go much further over the lifetime of the scheme.
We are well aware of how controversial the highways changes are, and have gone back to the drawing board and looked at all the assumptions regarding the underpass. We are still looking at whether slip lanes or other changes to the road layout in the vicinity will help traffic movement. This will continue to evolve over the next few months.
The quality of the built environment around Queensway is frankly poor, and we owe it to residents of the Estate and to the wider community to change that. A large modern development close to the High Street will contribute to the regeneration of the Southchurch Road end of town and support local businesses.