A NEW look café and crazy golf course will kick off the regeneration of Southend Pier this week.

The much-criticised café in the Royal Pavilion has been extensively refurbished by new operator the Vertas Group – and will soon be joined by a crazy golf course, pop-up “beach hut” shops, and even a post box this summer.

It is the first step in what outgoing council leader Ron Woodley planned to be £20million overhaul, which also includes £150,000 worth of feasibility studies next year, in order to bring back the glory days of the pier head – before repeated fires decimated its attractions.

Council tourism chief Scott Dolling said: “We’re delighted with the new investment in the pier café, which demonstrates confidence from the private sector in our plans for the pier’s renaissance as a major tourist attraction of national importance.

“Along with the pop-up beach huts, mini golf and pier postal service, the visitor experience on the pier this summer will bigger and better than previous years and will maintain and grow its appeal while longer-term investments materialise.”

Vertas general manager Manoj Nair added: “We are absolutely thrilled with the new look café and catering offer at Southend Pier and cannot wait to welcome local residents and visitors to ‘Salt’.

“The new brand boasts a fresh and modern feel, whilst keeping in line with the surroundings. It was important for us to ensure that we created a service offering which appealed to all audiences and best promoted this iconic landmark.”

Southend Pier Crazy Golf, which is now open and will be officially launched on Friday, which be a 12-hole course with “Olga the Octopus” as its centrepiece.

Owner Darren Lattimer said: "I have been looking forward to putting the course at the end of the pier to give our visitors even more fun and enjoyment on their visit.

“Along with the other improvements and attractions this year, there will be more reason than ever to take a walk or a ride down the world’s longest pleasure pier."

The post box at the end of the pier will be installed on Friday, with pier managers hoping it will encourage tourists visiting the longest pleasure pier in the world to send postcards with their own “Southend Pier” frank mark.