The echo today has run a story around the proposed new hotel at the Gas Works site which has been empty for many years now. I think everyone concerned would have preferred a 4 star hotel but I fully understand the reasons behind the change to a more basic style of hotel. However, I was amazed to read that Cllr Woodley was bemoaning this change as it was he that spoke so strongly against the adjoining proposals for a mixed use development some years back.
The development control committee refused the application to the clear joy of Cllr Woodley and the earlier 4 star hotel was lost.
It was clear to many that finding a 4 star hotel to sign up with a derelict site with no valid planning application on the adjoining site was going to be a challenge too far. Now with a reduced application approved another hotel has shown interest but we are in a recession and the new hotel is not a fully fledged 4 star.
I think its a shame that the earlier more exiting scheme which was praised for its design was refused and that we will now have a fairly basic mixed use development and a fairly basic hotel.
One of the reasons the earlier design was refused was because it was claimed it was too high and had too many flats in it. If we do not build up in a few locations to provide one and two bed apartments for first time buyers and for retirement we will never free up the family homes for families nor be able to house our young people in Southend and due to the demand for apartments prices will remain too high for many.