The Local Plan will be key to realising future economic opportunities and ensuring that the town is ‘open for business’
Approximately 66,200 employees work within Southend in over 6,600 businesses. There is a recognised strong entrepreneurial culture in the area and most businesses within Southend are small, with 85.5% of companies employing 10 people or fewer.
Current planning policy focusses on expanding existing business sites and premises, together with providing new opportunities as part of the Airport Business Park Southend.
The office market in Southend has seen significant changes with much of the town’s older outdated office stock being converted to provide much needed smaller residential units, particularly in the town centre at Victoria Avenue. There is now a changing requirement for smaller to medium sized office units providing a range of quality flexible stock as part of mixed use developments.
The South Essex Economic Development Needs Assessment (EDNA 2018) sets the context for future economic growth and notes that the economic opportunities for South Essex are considerable. However, the provision of strong infrastructure connections and continued adequate investment into road and digital infrastructure and the public transport network is regarded as essential for supporting economic development and employment activities across South Essex. Without this investment it will not be possible to achieve the economic growth potential.
The EDNA study identifies ‘growth clusters’ as having the potential to achieve future growth in Southend. These are the Town Centre, London Southend Airport and northern Southend corridor centred around Stock Road and Temple Farm. Within these areas the principal growth drivers are identified as being the digital, cultural and creative; healthcare technology; advanced manufacturing and engineering; and tourism sectors. It is recommended that support and investment for education, skills and training is targeted towards these occupations and industries to help boost the qualifications and skills levels of local people in these sectors.
The EDNA suggests that there is a need for up to 39,000sq metres/4 hectares of additional office space in Southend over the next 20 years whilst changes in the traditional manufacturing sector indicate that there is not a quantitative need to allocate additional land for this purpose. However, the EDNA report notes that this does not mean that there is not a qualitative need at a particular scale and format not currently provided which supports manufacturing/industrial activity.
Tourism and transport issues are considered in the following sections of this report.