MULTI-MILLION pound plans to add a new restaurant to a Westcliff theatre have stalled, as crunch talks take place to resolve concerns over spiralling costs.
Council documents show the proposals for the Cliffs Pavilion hang in the balance while bosses discuss the cost of the project and financial benefit with the theatre.
Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak agreed Southend would receive almost £20 million from the “Levelling Up Fund”
to spearhead ambitious plans, including the Cliffs Pavilion refurbishment, last autumn.
But papers, published ahead of a meeting of Southend Council cabinet today, suggest more funding will likely be needed for the scheme than originally thought.
The document states: “The project is currently on hold to enable the commercial terms to be agreed between the council and the current operator.
“When it resumes the anticipated costs of the project will have increased since it was initially budgeted therefore the commercial return on investment will require a comprehensive review.”
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Senior opposition councillors insist the plans must go ahead.
Derek Jarvis, shadow cabinet member for culture and heritage, said: “I am concerned about this and it would be such a loss if it didn’t happen.
“I was very much looking forward to this happening, and I am really hoping the plan isn’t knocked on the head.
“I have always felt it was needed and we must get this all sorted out and the development done as soon as possible.
“It’s been identified as being needed and I think if plans are being reconsidered, it should be other projects that make way, not this one.”
Under the bold new plans, the Cliffs would get a big extension on the site of the existing sunken terrace.
This will create space for a new restaurant, which will seat 194 people inside and 40 outside.
The existing 100 seat firstfloor restaurant will be converted into a theatre bar area.
Paul Collins, councillor responsible for asset management and inward investment, said: “I am very confident it will be going ahead.
“It’s being affected by a time delay and also the costs of everything including building materials.
“I suppose we will see building work start in the early part of next year.
“The impact of the cost of materials and also labour has been affecting everything and various projects.”