A LANDMARK seafront sun shelter could be converted into a cafe or restaurant.

Dedman Gray and Sorrell Property have been instructed by Southend Council to find a tenant to turn the Leas sun shelter in Western Esplanade into a restaurant or even an ice cream parlour.

The council had previously said the building, also known as the Horseshoe Shelter, was “under-used” in its current form, which is a resting place or viewing platform.

It also says any development will have to respect its character by preserving or reinstating traditional features and materials.

A small portion of the building would be retained as a public seating area.

Ray Holden, who runs the Fountain cafe in Palmeira Arches, Western Esplanade, said: “To be honest, something needs to be done with it because it is just a ramshackle piece of Victorian legacy. It is used by nothing but down-and-outs. It is a magnet for homeless people so from my point of view something is better than nothing.

“From a business point of view, I’d say it’s another nail in the coffin for the Arches. It is another restaurant, another entrepreneur, coming in. They can never come up with anything else.

“Why can’t they make it a tourist information centre or something? Or even a beach-side shop, or put the museum down there?”

The structure was put out for lease last week.