Derelict Southend office block used as film set

Posted on by John Cronin

A large and derelict office block in Southend-on-Sea in Essex is currently being used as film set in a forthcoming film.

The half-demolished office block on the seafront at Southend-on-Sea is currently being used as a mock-up for an Iraqi market scene in the forthcoming film entitled “Screwed” that is due for release in 2012. Filming continues this week.

esplanade houseThe derelict office block is called Esplanade House (pictured, image source) and is located on the seafront on Eastern Esplanade, Southend. The former offices to the old gas works have been empty for over five years and the building is beginning to be known locally as the “Esplanade Eyesore”. Despite access to the floors being restricted due to the lack of stairs, vandals have risked injury by climbing the building to draw graffiti on the walls.

The offices have not been completely demolished because developers would then lose the right to construct a potential new office scheme on the site. Now owned by the Robert Leonard Group the site is believed to be partially contaminated due to the previous town gas works.

The construction company originally wanted to demolish the existing office block, decontaminate the site and build a mixed-use scheme of residential apartments, a hotel, student accommodation and retail outlets.

Having finally won three year, hybrid approval for the latest proposed plans in August 2010, the company has since decided to market the 3.5-acre site. Chelmsford-based Bidwells Property are selling the site by informal tender and the asking price is by application only.

Independent councillor for Thorpe ward, Ron Woodley, who opposed plans for the site, told the Southend Standard: “The council should be looking at developers to make sure they have the finances in place to fulfil the commitments they’re putting forward in planning applications. Every time we fail to do this. Esplanade House is in ruins but residents have been looking onto this site for so long. What a testament to Southend Council’s planning policies. The whole thing is wrong.”

Mark Flewitt, the Tory councillor for planning, was positive about the sale and hoped any new owners would develop the site in line with the planning permission. He said: “Rather than have it lying there empty, of no use to the local economy, we need to get these buildings in use”.

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