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Haven is once again restored as a Community Hub on Southend's High Street

13 August 2019

Haven’s Department Store was built by the family company of the same name in 1935. This Grade II listed Art Deco landmark building in Southend’s Hamlet Court Road, once nicknamed ‘the Bond Street of Southend’, had significantly declined in recent years - an unfortunately all too familiar story on some of Britain’s changing high streets. Sadly, the  store closed in January 2018, bringing an end to 116 years of trading on this site.  

However, an imaginative proposal by Age Concern Southend-on-Sea (ACSOS) promises to find a new role for this key high street building.  “The Haven” will be a one-stop-shop centre for older people and their families, offering Age Concern’s own services, plus letting space to other charities and agencies providing healthcare and other relevant support  in areas such as advocacy, bereavement and dementia care. A cafe on the ground floor and businesses providing  hairdressing, podiatry and similar services will generate income as well as providing conveniently located services for centre users. Clubs, courses and leisure activities will also be provided. It is a service model that has been successfully adopted in other locations.

An AHF Project Viability Grant for £4,980 kick started the project to pay for a project viability report to test whether the proposed use should be pursued and to develop the business case. An AHF loan of £100,000 was recently provided to fund the initial cost of alterations and refurbishment necessary to set up the new centre while external funding is secured from charitable trusts, local business and individuals to complete the full renovation. Having access to a working capital loan upfront minimises the risk of delay in starting works and helps to ensure the building is fit for use.

Commenting on the investment, Matthew McKeague, CEO of the AHF said:

“We’re delighted to have provided this loan to Age Concern Southend to help with the delivery of The Haven project. Havens Department Store was clearly more than just a shop to the local community, it provided space for people to interact and meet each other. We hope its rebirth as a hub for older people will continue this legacy and provide inspiration for other similarly iconic retail buildings across the country.”

Find out more about the Haven’s project here

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