A £1.9MILLION investment package is needed to transform the derelict post office building in Southend High Street into flats and a restaurant.

Estate agents Allsop are calling on investors to find the cash to bring Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay and nine flats to the area.

The plans are for 201, High Street, which housed the post office before it closed and moved into WH Smith in 2017.

The commercial unit has stood empty ever since, with Gemini Fitness, previously occupying the upper floors, now also closed down.

Planning permission has already been granted for nine flats in the upper floors, with the ground floor commercial unit already being leased to Turtle Bay for a 20-year term up to 2039.

The flats would consist of seven one-bedroom properties, one two-bedroom, and one three-bedroom. Planning permission was granted in May 2018.

Allsop have pitched the site to investors to capitalise on the number of London commuters who have moved to Southend in the past five years, stating £1.9 million will be the minimum needed to fund the development.

Tony Cox, Tory opposition leader at Southend Council, welcomed the appeal.

He said: “This is a way we can make retail units viable. By changing the layout to a mix of empty space for homes and keep a space for retail.

“It’s the way for high streets to move forward.

“Some of the retail units will use the empty space as storage, but not all of them.

“It’s wasted space, and anything that gets retail units occupied to bring people into our high street is something to be welcomed.”

Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism at the council, said: “There seems to be more activity in the high street. There have been planning applications that have gone through, it seems to be changing from the straightforward shop to more entertainment experiences.

“Other places like it, such as the Molo lounge, have built up a good reputation. Businesses are realising a lot of people are moving from London to Southend, and they realise these people will want to use places such as these in the town centre.

“In the business community a lot of people talk to each other, and when they realise one party has chosen to put funds down it could mean they take similar courses.”

Suzanne Gloyne, Southend Business Improvement District manager, said: “The Turtle Bay development represents an attractive opportunity and I hope that the developers secure the required investment to get this exciting project underway.

“Not only will it breathe new life into a prominent and well-known site on the High Street, by becoming a vibrant new restaurant and creating employment opportunities, but the proposed flats will also contribute to reintroduce a local community into the immediate area.

“In turn, this will add vibrancy during the day and into the evenings.”

“The Turtle Bay plans also reflect the changing nature of our High Street and what people want from it, while also showing that there is still so much financial potential for investors here in the town centre.”