A plan to convert one of Southend’s most popular guest houses into flats has been approved.

The owners of the Gleneagles Hotel, in Clifftown Parade, can now convert the grade II listed building into seven flats.

Garry Lowen and his wife Penny have run the guesthouse for almost ten years but Mr Lowen, 63, has been diagnosed with motor neuron disease – a terminal condition.

Councillors at a development control committee on Wednesday unanimously voted to approve the application.

A previous application was turned down earlier this year, with a number of reasons given for refusal, including a loss of visitor accommodation and a design for an outbuilding that was “out of keeping” to the existing building.

The latest application, which addressed those concerns, gained the approval of planning officers and is now rubber-stamped by councillors.

The 14-bedroom guesthouse site includes 5 Clifftown Parade and the lower two floors of 6 Clifftown Parade. It will be converted to five, one-bedroom and two, two-bedroom flats.

The new application includes the removal of external modern porch to front, demolition of modern extension to rear of number 5 Clifftown Parade and the reinstatement of sash windows.

The council has a policy of protecting visitor accommodation but can make allowances if a business fails to sell, usually within two years of being on the market and for ill health.