Leader's Update - 22nd September 2021

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Following an extensive period of engagement and reflection with members of the public, stakeholders and councillors, I am pleased to confirm that a report will be brought to a meeting of the full Council on 19th October 2021 when councillors will have the opportunity to commission a redesign of the Council’s proposed scheme for the redevelopment of the Mill Arts & Events Centre site.

At the outset of the process, as Leader of Rochford District Council, I made a promise that we would listen to all representations made to our original proposals, and we have done exactly that.

Quite understandably, there was particular concern about the impact any development would have on the aesthetic value and iconic heritage of the Windmill and the Mount in the district. I share that view, and it was always very clear to me, and continues to be my unequivocal commitment, to ensure these two nationally treasured assets remain protected and enhanced by whatever eventually happens on the site.

We have also taken on board representations about the green spaces, locally important trees and concerns about residential development. In considering the future development of the site, I am committed to ensure that the Council considers alternative proposals which do not include residential development. 

Turning to the Mill Hall itself, we received considerable feedback about the proposed replacement building, especially in relation to the optimum size it should be. We have not come to any view as yet, but it is imperative, whatever the eventual solution is, (whether new build or refurbishment), that it meets community needs and is also financially viable.

I am also clear that any new building must be designed and built in a way to be highly environmentally sustainable, supporting the Council’s ambition to become carbon neutral.

For these reasons, any new scheme for the Mill Hall site as a whole will be subject to a further options analysis. This will include an in-person engagement process with the public to gauge views before a final decision is made.

Thank you to everyone for your feedback and I look forward to sharing new proposals with you in due course.
Cllr Simon Wootton
Leader, Rochford District Council.