Argosy Toys Westcliff: ‘Apartments will hide our iconic toy store mural’

OWNERS of a toy store fear that the colorful mural on the side of their business will be covered over by new apartments and cause a drop in trade.

Bosses at Argosy Toys, in London Road, Westcliff, had campaigned for RG Airspace Developments’ plans for nine houses to be scrapped.

However, work is ongoing and the owner fears the 75-year-old business could be affected if the brightly colored mural on the side of the building is covered.

The building next door, which has been empty for several years, is currently set back further than Argosy Toys, but the development means the store will be located next to the new apartments.

Thomas Rohl, 18, an international shipping logistics manager, fears this will keep new customers from noticing the company.

He said: “We tried to fight it and stop it from happening, but we thought it might be unavoidable. This could be very bad for us as we will lose the mural and it can be seen from the bottom of the road.

“It’s very important and our biggest publicity that we lose. The mural is so popular in the community and started as graffiti by artist Darren Goddard.

“Clients pose for pictures with the wall before it disappears and tell us they are saddened by its loss.”

Southend Council initially refused the plans, but it was agreed in an appeal with the Government Planning Inspector in January last year.

The store celebrated 75 years in business this month and bosses say trade has been positive since the Covid pandemic.

Mr Rohl added: ‘When the council turned down the plans, we felt there was hope to stop it going ahead. We can’t replace the mural as we don’t have room elsewhere for something like this.

“It will make us less visible to the public and it will help attract new customers who will see it and then want to enter the store.”

He said it was about four years ago and he is now so much a part of the business.

A spokesperson for the developer said: “We have been in contact with the owners of Argosy Toys and are informed that all elements of the party wall have been reviewed and agreed.

‘Clearly new development will have to go ahead to respect the front building line as agreed with Southend Council’s planning department.’

About Lola C. Chapman

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