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‘Voyage Partnership’: Connecting our historic past with our future

A new ‘Voyage partnership’ has been launched in order to deliver a long-term regeneration programme for the Rochford District, which will boost the local economy and provide better community facilities while reducing future costs.

The partnership will be a collaboration between Rochford District Council and gbpartnerships, who have formally entered into contracts to deliver the Council’s Asset Delivery Programme, following approval at a meeting of Full Council on September 8.

The programme ethos will be ‘connecting our historic past with our future’, recognising how the proud local heritage we have in the Rochford District can work in harmony with our long-term goals for regeneration.

An interactive website will be used to provide updates as the project develops, bringing to life the plans and supporting engagement activity with residents and stakeholders during the lifespan of the regeneration programme.

The project will include the provision of a new community centre to replace the Mill Arts & Events Centre, in Rayleigh, which will provide a boost to the town centre as well as facilities for residents to enjoy.

Artists impression of the New Mill Community Centre

The Freight House, in Rochford, will also be refurbished to form a new civic chamber and hireable community space with an extension which can be used as working and meeting space for Council staff and visitors.

Artists impression of the New Freight House

The intention for the Civic Suite in Rayleigh is to re-develop the whole of this site for business use and/or housing. The other sites within the programme will be developed for high quality local housing – these being at the Council’s current offices in South Street, Rochford, and No.’s 19 and 57 South Street, Rochford.

A robust and detailed analysis revealed the proposed programme would be more cost-efficient than continuing to operate the existing buildings in their current form due to their age, layout, and the need for significant investment to continue to maintain them in future.

This is the latest step in a competitive procurement process, which has been underway since February 2019, following an Asset Strategy approved by Council almost two years ago and an Outline Business Case.

The term ‘Voyage Partnership’ was chosen because it not only identifies the journey we are undertaking, but nods to our proud and varied heritage, including our links to Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle (with the vessel’s last known resting place being in Paglesham) and the wider association with waterways. A series of Frequently Asked Questions about the project is available at:

Leader of Rochford District Council, Cllr Simon Wootton, said:

“I am delighted to launch the new Voyage Partnership, which recognises the importance of our proud heritage and connects this with future opportunities for growth and prosperity. This partnership will deliver a programme of long-term regeneration for the Rochford District, making best use of council-owned buildings and providing value for money, while also providing better community facilities for our residents to enjoy.”

George Farley, Programme Director gbpartnerships, said:

“The launch of the Voyage Partnership heralds the next stage of this important programme as we develop more detail into initial concept designs. The Voyage Partnership website will be particularly important at this challenging time for sharing news, the latest designs as they develop and for most importantly receiving comments and feedback from the wider public in due course.”

The next steps we will then be to actively engage with our stakeholders, including local residents, businesses and community groups, as the various schemes come forward.

Visit: to find out more about the project.

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