Controversial plans to redevelop Southend house into flats thrown out by council for a second time

Controversial plans to convert a house in Leigh into a block of flats has been rejected by Southend Council for a second time.

Developers had hoped that the fresh proposal to transform 135 Marine Parade in Leigh into a block of flats would win the favour of councillors after they reduced the number of properties from seven to six.

They also altered the layout to reduce the size after it had previously been labelled “excessive”.

However, concerns raised about the previous application remained a significant issue when the plans were discussed at a Development Committee meeting on Wednesday when councillors unanimously agreed that planning permission should be refused.

A council planning officer explained to councillors that while some amendments had been made to the plans they are “very much the same thing”.

He said: “From the design and character of the building, little has changed from what was previously considered unacceptable.”

The comments were given support from Councillor Faye Evans who said she “completely agreed” with the officer.

She further clarified that while the property had been considered by many to have been owned by the famous Essex-born singer Dame Vera Lynn, the singer had actually bid for the property but later lost out to another buyer.

The council received 12 objections from neighbours as well as from Leigh Town Council who all objected to the development on the grounds that it would be “out of character” for the area.

Neighbours were also concerned about the flats overlooking their properties, the increase in congestion and noise disturbance.

The applicant did submit an impact study that addressed concerns about the increase in noise as a result of the flats but the council’s environmental health officer rejected the findings and maintained that there would be a disturbance.

Planning refusal will come as a disappointment to the developers who had stated in planning documents that they are “optimistic that this scheme meets the local authority’s requirements for proposals of this nature”.

When members of the committee discussed the first application for seven flats, it was unanimously rejected following fierce opposition from 40 residents who had urged the council to refuse planning permission.

The former leader of the council, Cllr John Lamb, had also raised concerns about the first application and urged the council not to give planning permission due to the impact it would have on the community.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter