Turnstone Estate’s £50 million redevelopment Seaway Leisure in Southend has been given the go ahead by the Secretary of State, bringing a much-needed economic boost to the area. Work is expected to start next year on the state-of-the-art year-round family leisure experience, backed by big names such as Empire Cinemas and Hollywood Bowl.

The 2.3 hectare site will accommodate 155,000 sq ft of mixed use accommodation and create up to 550 new jobs, as well as generating £15 million for the local area every year. It includes a multiplex at first floor, six restaurant units, indoor leisure units, an 80 bed hotel and public square, together with 555 car parking spaces.

Empire Cinemas will anchor the scheme with a 1,370 seat state-of-the-art 11 screen cinema including IMAX. Hollywood Bowl will occupy the large leisure unit on the lower ground floor and will incorporate 20 bowling lanes, Hollywood Diner, bar and amusement centre. Travelodge has also been secured for the 80 bed hotel.

Tim Deacon, Director at Turnstone Estates, comments, “Despite the economic impact of COVID-19, we are as committed as ever to delivering the Seaway Leisure scheme, which still meets the needs of Southend in a post-COVID world, so that local residents can have a first-class leisure attraction they can enjoy all year round.

“Over the past week, there has been much speculation on the future of the cinema industry after recent announcements and the ongoing uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Fortunately, Empire Cinemas are committed to opening in Southend which will include IMAX, who will also open a new town centre site in Basildon next year.”

Justin Ribbons, the CEO of Empire Cinemas adds, “Despite the current difficulties caused by the pandemic across the leisure and hospitality sector, Empire Cinemas remain confident that cinema will continue to be at the heart of the community.  

“Watching a film on the BIG Screen is a truly immersive experience like no other – an escape from the ‘everyday’, something that cannot be replicated in home or on mobile devices.  We look forward to bringing a new era in Cinema to Southend.” 

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, comments, “I am delighted to hear the news of a positive decision from the Secretary of State on the Seaway Leisure development. This has been a long time coming, and as a key Southend 2050 project we welcome the development and investment which will be a key part in our local economic recovery.

“The £50 million investment into Southend-on-Sea and the central seafront area, will significantly improve and modernise Southend’s leisure and hospitality offer for residents and visitors alike. It will give people another reason to visit and spend more time in the town centre and will greatly improve the environment in this location. The new jobs and wider economic benefits created by the development will boost the town’s economy at a time when it will be most needed.”

Wareing & Partners is Turnstone Estates letting agent. Carter Jonas and Howes Percival provided planning and legal advice.