Southend Echo
Tueday March 14 2006

Letters: Saxon king is too important to be ignored

DOES the site of the Saxon king's remains in Southend really have to be lost to make way for a road scheme?

The Prittlewell grave is too important to be ignored. On the other hand, until a convenient and repliable alternative exists, cars are not going to go away, even if the threat of global warming ought to make us all think twice.

Is there a compromise?

Even if the road widening goes ahead, it cannot be beyond the realms of human ingenuity to find a solution that would allow the historical relics to be celebrated in Priory Park.

Perhaps there could be a visitor centre in the park, with below-groupd and below-road access to the actual chamber grave. The grave could be reopened for visitors underground with replicas of all the finds and even a “body” back in place as it would have been at the moment the tomb was sealed perhas 1,350 years ago. There could be an atmospheric approach to an underground viewing area, to “the king’s last resting place.”

That would be far better — and fitting — than putting a circus in, say, the crumbling cliffs on the seafront, as has been suggested.

After all, the Priory in itself has a historical connection to the finds. Such a project would attract national or even EU heritage money. It would bring Essex history to life.

With a little give and take, would this idea not be feasible?

After all, Sutton Hoo has great facilities these days via the National Trust. Stonehenge has a sunken entrance and all buildings are below ground level.

It's not all about the past. For Southend the archaeology could be a present for the future.

Castle Road, Hadleigh

Relief road spells alarm for some

All change? The fear is that a relief road cutting into green belt would be an excuse for developments close by

DEVELOPER Lansbury Holdings is behind a firm called Seaside which hopes to build a new outer relief road for Southend in exchange for building housing, shops and other commercial property on green belt land.

Seaside wants to build a new bypass through green belt in Rochford linking Southend Airport to proposed hosing developments in Shoebury on Ministry of Defence land.

Lansbury itself is a major landowner. It owns the Fossets Farm site off Eastern Avenue , Southend, which is set to become home to a new Southend United stadium.

The three shareholders behind Seaside, who have not been named, are looking to spend £7million to £8million of their own money on promoting their plans in the planning stage alone.

Seaside said the project would lead to £500million of investment to improve infrastructure, public transport, schools, leisure

Spokesman for Seaside, Anthony Painter, said the company had put in its submission to the East of England Plan inquiry.

He added: "We believe this is still a tremendous regeneration project for Thames Gateway which could also provide vital infrastructure.

"We are still carrying out consultations with local authorities and other interested parties."

Mr Painter said there had not been any discussions with Government departments or ministers about the scheme as it remained in its early stages.

Southend Council leader Anna Waite described the Seaside proposals as "horrendous".

Mrs Waite said some small area of green belt could be released, but the majority should remain untouched.

She said: "I don't think major development in the green belt is acceptable, which is why I feel the Seaside scheme is horrendous."

James Duddridge, Tory MP for Rochford and Southend East, is one of those most affected by the Seaside scheme as it would be almost entirely within his constituency.

He said: "I intrinsically oppose housing development in the green belt and support the principle of using brownfield sites. In Southend, I think this potential is available on the New Ranges, but there is a major problem with the infrastructure.

"In the short-term we need the Priory Crescent improvement as soon as possible and I also want to see improvements along the A127.

"Eventually I hope to see the outer relief road, but I believe that the only green belt land which could be released would be for the road alone.

"It would be unacceptable to have major development in return for the road which would virtually mean Southend and Rochford becoing one area. If there could be a guarantee that the road would not be used as an excuse for development close to it, then I believe many of those most opposed would accept it."

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