A BUFFET restaurant could be transformed into luxury flats and a gym if plans get the go ahead.

An application has been submitted for five self-contained flats within a building on London Road, Southend, currently occupied by Mayas World Buffet.

An earlier application to change the second floor into three flats with roof gardens has previously been approved, meaning that if the latest one is also given the go ahead, the building will become eight flats.

Details on the planned gym are limited but the application states it would be for the exclusive use of residents.

The application is one of a number of developments in Southend which is in the process of regeneration.

The planning document notes the plans have come after the owners of Mayas World Buffet chose not to renew their lease on the site, although they have not been able to be reached for comment.

The restaurant has been open and in its current location since 2013.

Concerns were raised in the application, that if there is no residential development the unit could be left empty, claiming there is little interest in it as a commercial unit.

It states: “The landlord has marketed the unit via a closed market strategy and there has been no interest in the unit as a restaurant.

“Many restaurants are currently struggling to survive and there are many alternative units which would better suit a restaurant in Southend High Street itself and would offer a shopfront location.”

None of the new flats will be classed as affordable homes because the proposal is for fewer than ten properties and it is regarded as “not practical”.

Instead the developers will negotiate with the council to provide a financial contribution to future homes and infrastructure in the town.

The ground floor of the building is also occupied by a café and a restaurant and those businesses will remain open.

A residential conversion has been planned for several years but the landlord has struggled to obtain planning permission from the council’s development committee.

The application for flats on the second floor was approved in December but had initially been submitted in June 2015 and refused three times.

Those plans were refused on multiple occasions due to concerns relating to living conditions within the flats, noise and the large number of building alterations that would be needed.

However, despite concerns raised by the council, the application did not receive any objections from the public.

The owner of Mayas was not available for comment before publication.