Fears grow over plans for Waverley Guest House in Southend

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Plans to convert a beachfront guesthouse into a care home for vulnerable and homeless people with mental health issues face growing opposition.

The Stephen’s Place charity has submitted a proposal to renovate the Waverley Guest House in the East Esplanade.

The Southend-based charity said the care home would help with its “charitable purposes” to “alleviate social exclusion, hardship and distress”.

The facility is said to house homeless people, ex-offenders, people fleeing modern slavery and former members of the military.

The 13-bedroom, four-star Waverley is still open but is currently on sale from Hart estate agents for up to £ 1.2million.

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It is believed that the charity seeks to change the use of the property before purchasing it.

Ron Woodley, deputy head of the board and president of the Burges Estate Residents’ Association, said: “This is not suitable for a care home.

“As President of the Residents’ Association and City Councilor, I wrote on behalf of the membership to say that this is totally inappropriate. It is not in accordance with council policy. They did not do any flood assessment. The app is all wrong.

“There’s no way the board can allow this to happen. This goes against the municipal policy of preserving our guest rooms, especially by the sea. It simply cannot happen.

Southend council has already taken a position on preserving hotels and holiday accommodation in the city and the decision is likely to be made by the development control committee.

Paul Denney, spokesperson for Beaches Guest House nearby, said: “We have written a long letter to council opposing these plans. This is against council policy to protect guest houses and also against another council policy that says you must identify a need for any new nursing home.

“This stretch of street has eight guest houses. It is the only place in Southend that has this kind of facility. It is important for tourism and not the right place for a nursing home.

The owner of the Waverley declined to comment, but said he was unaware of the nature of the request. The Waverley is currently still open and operating as usual.

Stephen’s Place did not respond to a request for comment.


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