A PLANNED play area on Shoebury Common could now be moved behind promenade beach huts, it has been claimed.

Current overspill parking areas on the site, close to the beach huts, would be moved across the road (to the north side) if the plans go-ahead.

Peter Grub, from The Friends of Shoebury Common and owner of Uncle Tom’s Cabin café, isn’t happy at all.

He said relocating the playground was a plan revealed to him during a recent meeting he had with a prominent council source. He fears the plan would ruin the area.

He said: “The children’s play area about to be installed at the North Area, away from the seaside, would be resited within the picnic area in the South side.

“Thus creating a leisure and recreation area and barbecue centre. This would pollute the fresh atmosphere while smoking everyone out.

“There is a barbecue area in nearby East Beach.

“At the weekend the smell from burning food and accelerants there was awful.

“We don’t want that near the beach huts.

“It would completely change the area. People like to park up behind the huts and walk to the beach. They don’t want to cross a busy road. It’s the wrong place for a play area as well as it would attract undesirables at night.

“These proposals show that the council continues to have no understanding of the unique dynamic that makes Shoebury Common so special.”

Tamarisk bushes on the land-side of the common have already been moved to make way for the play area. Earth mounds were also installed to deter travellers.

Dan Harris, 34, a father-of-two, from Southend said: “We often use Shoebury Common beach.

“I’m not against a play and barbecue area but I think it would be better on the north side, (land side) because if the main car park is full it is easier to be on the beach side rather than lugging buckets and spades and kids across the road.”

Southend Council did not respond by the Echo's deadline but has since disputed the speculation from Peter Grubb.

They say plans are currently being drawn up for a new playground on Shoebury Common North.

The playground is part of a programme of recreational facility enhancements designed to improve and benefit the area of Shoebury Common North for residents and visitors alike.

It follows two public consultations, the first in 2016 to establish what facilities people would like to have available when visiting the park, the results of which then fed into a landscape plan for the site, which was produced in partnership with the Shoebury Coastal Community Team.

Demand for a play area meant that a second consultation was held to establish what equipment people wanted to see within the playground. This became part of the tendering process and a contractor was appointed.

Responding to recent speculation about the playground possibly relocating to the Shoebury Common South, Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “There has never been any decision made to move the location of the playground to Shoebury Common South.

“The landscaping, including the play area, provides a different recreational offer than what is currently available in the area and will be of great benefit to local people and visitors alike.”