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New Southend cinema complex could threaten ‘extinction’ for leisure park

Adventure Island will be forced to close if a new £50m leisure complex is built in Southend, its owner claims.

Phillip Miller MBE said his family business will become “extinct” if the £50million cinema complex gets the go ahead from Southend Council.

The prominent businessman is executive chairman of the Stockvale Group which includes Adventure Island, Sea Life Adventure and the restaurant Clarence Yard.

In a letter to every councillor and the Echo he states: “If this scheme was allowed to happen it would lead to the extinction of my family business.

“The knock on effect to surrounding businesses would be catastrophic if we were to close.

“The town’s hotels would suffer a downturn as well, who gain much extra business from us.

“On top of which the guaranteed closure of the Odeon cinema wrecking the North end of the High Streets trade.

“We have already seen the Kursaal close due just to the threat of the Seaway madness.

Developer Turnstone Estates is hoping to get planning permission by January to turn the car park off Lucy Road into an 11 screen IMAX Empire Cinema, 20 lane Hollywood Bowl, 80-bed Travelodge Hotel, restaurants and a new public square, with 555 car parking spaces in a new multi-storey building.

The council is expected to discuss awarding planning permission at a special development control committee meeting before Christmas.

Council leader Ian Gilbert said: “The details of this were all agreed in February, the positions regarding the development remain the same and this is now a matter that has to be resolved on planning grounds.”

Council documents show that the scheme is expected to create around 500 jobs in the town and generate an additional £15million for the local economy each year, according to Turnstone Estates..

The scheme has been controversial due to loss of parking spaces.

Mr Miller wrote: “The festival leisure Park at Basildon has two thousand car parking spaces and even then gets overrun at times.

In the Seaway car park at present there are 661 spaces reducing to 555 if the development is approved.”

He added: “I am fighting for the survival of my family business.”

Mr Miller added: “It’s not the development we are against as such, after all it’s the council’s property they can fill it up with strip joints if they want.

“The reason we are so adamantly against is it will lead to the extinction of our business.

“If you take away our car parking you cut off our oxygen simple as that, ninety percent of our customers visit by car.

“For comparison Festival Leisure Park has in excess of two thousand spaces and still gets overrun, if built seaway will reduce to five hundred and fifty five from the existing six hundred and sixty one even with that number and it can’t keep up.

Tim Deacon, Director at Turnstone, said: “Southend town centre is at an important crossroads.

“An approach that looks backwards and denies residents new jobs and facilities sells Southend short.

“Only Seaway Leisure’s £50 million investment will be the game changer that the area needs to thrive.

“Seaway Leisure’s delivery of exciting state-of-the-art facilities and big names like Empire Cinemas will finally give Southend residents a family friendly attraction that they can enjoy all year round, not just during the height of summer.

“What’s good for business is good for Southend and the facts show that Seaway Leisure will breathe new life into Southend’s town centre.

“Rigorously tested assessments have proven that Seaway Leisure will generate £15 million each year for Southend and attract extra footfall for surrounding businesses to cash in on the benefits that the regeneration will bring.

“While Seaway Leisure will complement the town centre and act as a catalyst for regeneration, the rules require the scheme to be determined based on planning policy instead of claims on stifling competition.

“It’s no wonder that the Southend BID, which speaks for hundreds of town centre businesses, is calling on Southend Borough Council to approve the proposals as soon as possible.”

He added: “It’s time to put personal interests aside and do what is best for Southend.

“That means delivering hundreds of jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for Southend residents and saying yes to a once in a lifetime investment that will without a doubt turbo-charge Southend town centre’s economy.”

Source: Basildon, Canvey, Southend Echo

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