The Estuary Experience tips over budget

Site formerly known as Cliffs Museum will cost £55m 
Rob Picheta
The expected cost of a new cliff-top museum in Southend, which has been hit by repeated delays, has risen to £55 million.

Southend Council has revised costs for the Thames Estuary Experience, previously known as the Cliffs Museum, up from £35 million.

The council has said it is identifying grants and fundraising opportunities to help finance the project. £5 million of the new budget will be spent on the museum’s exhibition spaces and content, with the rest spent on the building itself.

Initial designs for the museum were announced in 2010, but progress was stalled and a new architect was appointed last year. Final plans were promised by the council in the spring, but they have yet to be announced.

The most recent plans suggested the museum will include four galleries, a planetarium, a restaurant and a café, with a new car park being built alongside the building.

When opened, the museum will display relics from the royal Saxon tomb discovered in Prittlewell in 2004, which is believed to date from the 7th century.

Relics from The London ship, sunk in the Thames estuary in 1665 and rediscovered in 2005, will also be displayed.

Southend councillor James Courtenay confirmed the project is in its “early stages”, adding: “The delivery of the Thames Estuary Experience, a visitor attraction benefitting from our two finds of international significance, is a long-term aspiration for Southend. It is important to be clear that the council has consistently said that we cannot fund this project alone.

“This attraction would draw visitors, boosting the local economy and promoting the rich history of Southend. We are working with architects, Hawkins Brown on the design aspect, and have now finished the concept design stage.”

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