Tuesday 14th February 2017
A new nursery, community hall and nine new houses will be built on the site of the Friar’s Community Centre and the former Friar’s Library and now-closed Renown Pupil Referral Unit.
Planning permission was granted earlier this week to demolish and redevelop the library and referral unit, the existing car park and community hall in Centurion Close, Shoeburyness.
The regeneration of the brownfield site will be carried out by PSP Southend LLP, the Council’s development company, and will include a new home for the Friar’s Centre Playgroup, which is currently located in the Community Centre.
As part of the project, the Council successfully bid to the Department for Education for £331,837 to enable the new nursery to create 24 new places and extend its current 26 places from part time to full time. Development of the site will start soon, with the nursery set to open in Autumn 2017.
Shoeburyness site to be regenerated with new nursery and homes
Cllr Andrew Moring, Executive Councillor with responsibility for assets, says: “Gaining planning permission is great news. It means we can get on with this development that will regenerate what is an underused and partially vacant brownfield site.
“It will also provide a new nursery and new family housing in a sustainable location that is close to public transport connections, services and facilities. We are very pleased that this project will be delivered by PSP Southend LLP, the Council’s development company, which will give the best value for money to the council and local taxpayers.”
Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, says: “This project will deliver a new state of the art nursery for local children with high quality play areas both inside and out and thanks to our successful funding bid, we can also develop new and existing childcare places for working parents ready for September 2017 when the new 30 hours of free childcare entitlement begins.”
Stacey Rawnsley, Manager of the Friars Centre Playgroup, says: “I am delighted to hear the plans have been approved. The new proposal is the best way forward to not just secure, but expand the invaluable childcare that Friars Centre Playgroup provides for parents. I could not be any prouder of my team, and I am very lucky to have such a wonderful team with a positive work ethic who put the children at the centre of everything they do. We are particularly delighted that a large outdoor area has been incorporated in the plans as this will strengthen the children’s development and enable us to continue our long term goal of becoming an outstanding setting.
“We play an important part in providing affordable childcare and are already operating at nearly full capacity. By giving us the opportunity to expand we will be able to offer more places from Autumn 2017, accommodating those looking to take up the 30 hours of free childcare being offered by the Government, as well as supporting working parents and those looking to return to work throughout the year.
“I look forward to seeing the development take place and sharing this experience with our children. The Committee and I will be busy planning for the exciting future Friars Centre Playgroup ensuring we grasp every opportunity to progress and be successful in the future.”
Adam Cunnington, Managing Director of Public Sector Plc, said: “We are delighted that another significant step towards delivering a much needed new community facility has been achieved by this partnership with the Council.
“This combination of private and public sector skills and resources is being used creatively to drive value from assets to achieve exciting and positive outcomes for the local community. We look forward to seeing this project through to completion.”
The Friars Centre Playgroup opened in 1974 and is currently rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted.
Sea-Life Adventure now has more animal magic than ever before
Get ready for a whole new world of watery wonder at Sea-Life Adventure on Southend seafront. Following a £680,000 redevelopment the popular south Essex attraction has virtually doubled in size and now features lots of new animal attractions, including penguins, meerkats, otters and a Royal Python.
Following its temporary closure on 5th January, Sea-Life Adventure is now por-poised to re-open in style on Saturday 11th February with amazing new additions to its famous collection of aquatic exhibits.
“It’s been a massive redevelopment, allowing us to include some major additions to the aquarium,” says Sea Life Adventure’s Director Lucy Hodge. “These included installing a huge new tank to house some real, monsters of the sea that we have rescued mainly from individuals who buy them as babies and don’t realise how large they get!”
Two Asian Short Clawed Otters have come to Southend from Newquay Zoo, in Cornwall. The family of three meerkats were originally kept at Dundee’s Camperdown Wildlife Centre. The penguins are proper Essex birds, having made the relatively short hop down to Southend from Colchester Zoo. All the new creatures are either rescue or captive born but overcrowded in their present homes.
“These new developments and additions to Sea Life take us to a whole new level,” she adds. “With more exhibits and exciting animals than ever before, we have been able to create a vast array of brand new interactive experiences, such as a Tropical Rockpool, so you’ll now be able to hold the crabs and starfish as well as some exciting new reptile and bug encounters!“
“By doing all this, we aim to engage far more deeply in promoting and raising public awareness of environmental conservation and protecting animals that are constantly threatened by the modern world. As part of this development, Sea-Life Adventure has joined the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), and we are looking forward to working with them to promote conservation awareness. We’d also like to thank Matt Ford from Specialist Wildlife Services for his help with the development. ”
Marc Miller MD of the Stockvale Group, Sea-Life Adventure’s parent company believes the £680,000 development of the iconic seafront landmark will have broader benefits: “Our policy of regularly re-investing in and enhancing our portfolio of attractions has a positive impact on Southend. Residents of the town and surrounding area now have a fantastic new opportunity to discover the new animals and learn all about them. Not only that, the expansion of one of the landmark attractions will further encourage visitors to the Southend, bringing inward investment to the local economy.”
Members of the public will also have a chance to name otters and meerkats via a competition on Radio Essex, starting on 11 February. Details at www.radioessex.com
Over 100 step up to volunteer for iconic ceramic Poppies
Tuesday 7th February 2016
Over 100 people have come forward to help greet the thousands of visitors expected to attend Shoebury’s Barge Pier when the celebrated sculpture Poppies: Wave by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper arrives in Southend as part of 14-18 NOW’s UK-wide tour.
So far 116 people have contacted the council to express interest in becoming “Wave Makers”, who will welcome the thousands of visitors expected to visit Wave when the sculpture comes to the Borough from 12th April to 25th June.
Around 150 volunteers are needed to cover a total of 210 four-hour shifts, with volunteers being asked to cover as many or few shifts as they wish.
An induction will be given to all volunteers with the aim of having a minimum of three volunteers covering each shift. Volunteers can sign up for as little or as many shifts as they would like.
“Wave Makers” will be on hand to help visitors by answering questions, giving directions or just being a friendly face for a chat.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism & The Economy, said: “I’ve been absolutely delighted with the response so far to our appeal for volunteers. There’s a huge buzz among local people who want to be able to say, “I was there”.”
“The London Olympics showed us all how valuable a contribution volunteers can make to an event’s success. Poppies: Wavecoming to Southend will be a massive visitor boost to the town as it celebrates its 125 year anniversary. We’ve had a very promising start to our recruitment campaign and I’d urge local people not to miss this exciting opportunity to be involved.”
The presentations by 14-18 NOW - the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary - will give people across the UK the chance to experience the impact of the ceramic poppy sculptures in a range of places of particular First World War resonance. Wave is from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – poppies and original concept by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper – by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces. The installation was originally at HM Tower of London from August to November 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one to honour every death in the British and Colonial forces of the First World War.
Southend-on-Sea was the scene of one of the first air-raids attacks on the UK, and the Garrison at Shoeburyness was home to the first British ‘School of Gunnery and a test site for artillery gun shells used during WW1. In common with the rest of the country, many people from Southend-on-Sea also fought or acted as nursing staff, with many making the ultimate sacrifice.
The installation will be open seven days a week and the proposed shifts are:
08:45 – 12:45
12:15 – 16:15
16:00 – 19:00
If you would like to be part of this amazing, beautiful and thought provoking event please visit www.southend.gov.uk/poppies and fill in the online form, or call 01702 212251.
Essex Tourism Economy Now Worth £3billion
County’s visitor offer outperforms entire nations’ GDP
The lure of over 2000 years of history, award-winning food and drink producers and great fun to be had in every corner of the county means our tourist economy is booming and recently published statistics suggest this trend is set to continue.
Figures released in the Economic Impact of Tourism Report 2015, produced by Destination Research, reveal some remarkable facts about our often-overlooked hospitality and tourism industry.
In 2015, there were 50.6 million trips (day and staying) to a destination in Essex, marking a 3% increase on the previous year’s performance. Day trips alone accounted for 47.8 million visits, an increase year-on-year of 3.1%, while people choosing to stay overnight or longer accounted for 2.5 million visits, according to the Destination Research report.
During their time here, whether enjoying a crisp, dry white wine and world-famous oysters on Mersea Island, exploring Britain’s oldest recorded town or having a scream on a Southend rollercoaster, Essex’s guests spent £2.2 billion, taking the value of tourism in the county to over £3billion.
“If you take that £3billion figure and compare our tourism economy to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of entire countries, in 2015 Essex would rank 172nd overall,” says Lisa Bone, Visit Essex’s Strategic Tourism Manager. “That means that if Essex was a sovereign nation, we’d be comparing ourselves with the Maldives, the Cayman Islands and Guyana?! With the increasing influx of visitors and revenue, employment in the travel and tourism sector is also expanding. 2015 saw the sector create just over 3% more roles, taking the total number of tourism-related jobs to an excellent 59,024.”
With the tourism economy a vital part of East Anglia’s success, companies are now being invited to share their experiences with the new Tourism Business Survey. Produced by specialist chartered accountants and business advisors Larking Gowen in partnership with organisations including Visit Essex, the 15-minute survey will provide a snapshot of the tourism and leisure sector across Essex.
Lisa believes Larking Gowen’s survey will give local businesses a valuable and useful tool to understand current trends, “I would encourage firms that are part of the visitor economy to get involved as, collectively, we can share an overall sense of the tourism economy and use that to our advantage when it comes to creating further growth.”
Now in its 11th year, Larking Gowen’s independent 2017 survey includes questions about the short and long term impact of last year’s Brexit vote as well as other issues affecting the sector including accessibility for disabled visitors.
Recently, Visit Britain announced that the favourable exchange rate could see visitor spending increase by 8.1% across the UK, with obvious benefits for Essex as a result.
Last year’s Tourism Business Survey (2016) revealed that 67% of the businesses participating in the survey saw increases of 6% or more on their turnover for 2015 and the predictions for 2016 were positive.
Chris Scargill, Larking Gowen’s Tourism & Leisure Partner says: “Our survey provides an opportunity to mark the current trends with a series of valuable statistics. The survey highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the industry as well as its economic benefits to the region. It is not only an important awareness tool used by key decision makers, tourism organisations and government both local and national, but it can also support participants to create tailored business development plans and provides a benchmarking tool to see how they compare year on year.”
Pete Waters executive director of Visit East Anglia said: “The Tourism Business Survey is an invaluable barometer of how the visitor economy is performing. It highlights issues, and supports our business planning. Crucially, the more businesses which participate in the survey, the better and more authoritative the data.”
The closing date for submissions to the survey is 26th February 2017. For more information, please visit