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24 September 2014

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Twenty-thousand students are set to transform Southend-on-sea from London’s closest seaside resort into a cultural and economic centre of the Thames Gateway.

View of Southend
Aerial view of Southend

Southend is best known as a fun seaside town, famous for its beaches and the world’s longest pleasure pier.

However, economic and educational investment is transforming the town. A new University of Essex campus and Further Education College is promising to bring 20,000 students to Southend by 2012, with half of them already there.

The South Essex town has also seen improvements to one of its main shopping centres and the new award winning Shoebury Garrison residential development.

The vision

South East Essex College
South East Essex College

A big university campus and conference centre, redeveloped shopping facilities, improved attractions for visitors and a better quality of nightlife.

What's happening?

Three priorities have been earmarked for regeneration and should be transformed over the next 20 years:


It is thought that by 2012 there will be 20,000 students in Southend.

Southend College construction
Building the pod in Southend College

The new University of Essex campus will run out of space in just two years' time and is looking for sites to build halls of residence.

The University has also bought the old Palace Hotel and is converting it into a conference centre and hotel.

South East Essex College and the University say they are working together to make sure the town has a really strong student community and local residents can also take advantage of the new facilities.

The town centre

Twenty-two million pounds is being spent on renovating the Victoria Shopping Centre, and joining it with Victoria train station to the High Street.  This aims to draw out-of-town shoppers back to Southend.

Along the seafront by the Kursaal the Marine Plaza is planned.  It will house a leisure complex, 100-room hotel with conference facilities, casino, a night club and bars, entertainment facilities, car parking as well as 126 apartments.

One thousand six hundred and fifty new homes are planned overall for Southend town centre.

Local economy

View of the High Street
View of Southend High Street

Southend Airport is hoping to expand with a new terminal building and hotel. Airport bosses want to offer more routes to European capitals and take advantage of the London Olympics in 2012.


A tower the height of Canary Wharf is planned as part of the Shoebury Garrison residential development.  There are plans for 1,400 new homes and new jobs.

The numbers

  • Population: 160,257 (largest town in Essex)
  • London’s nearest seaside resort
  • Seven miles of seafront from Shoeburyness to Leigh-on-Sea.  Along this stretch of coastline are six award winning beaches.
  • The Central Area Masterplan will aim to deliver:
         Up to 1650 new homes
         25,000 sq m of retail space by 2016
         20,500 sq m office accommodation
  • Facilities for 18,000 students.
  • London Southend Airport will accommodate 1 million passengers travelling to Europe and within the UK by 2016.

When is it happening?

The Central Area Masterplan is due to be completed and submitted towards Spring/Summer of 2007.  The first phases of development will take place up until 2009, with the final elements of the regeneration plans due to be completed by 2021.

Essential links

For more detail on the regeneration plans for Southend, click on the links below:

Or you can contact:

Renaissance Southend Ltd
19 Clifftown Road
Essex SS1 1AB

Telephone: 01702 224500
Email: admin@renaissancesouthend.co.uk

last updated: 14/02/07
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