PLANS to turn the space above a defunct High Street travel agent into properties spread across two floors have been green lit by Southend Council.

Blakewood properties submitted an application to the city council back in July to transform the upper floors of the ex-Thomas Cook unit, which shut in 2019.

The proposal will see three-bedrooms take over the first and second floors of the building from commercial use, as well as a new main entrance being installed.

Matt Dent, Kursaal ward Labour councillor, said: “Hearing this news about the upper floors being turned into housing is great news because we do have a need for additional housing.

“With it being in a prime spot, the middle of Southend High Street, it offers a convenience with people not having to go far to get shopping, have a nice night out in the bars with friends, or hop on a train to the capital.

“More importantly, the additional housing for is welcome news, and it will ultimately attract more people to live in this great city.”

As well as the properties, which are next to The Ironworks arts and culture venue, a cycle rack within the rear courtyard at ground floor level will be fitted.

Even though planning permission has been accepted, it is subject to conditions, including construction hours for the development being restricted from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday; 8am to 1pm on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays or public or bank holidays.

In addition, no development can take place, other than demolition and site preparation works, until full details of vibration and noise mitigation measures have been carried out and approved.

It comes as Thomas Cook departed from Southend High Street in 2019 after the former business collapsed.

However, the firm, which was founded in Peterborough in 1841, was brought back to life again online after a group of former employees bought the brand.

On October 9, 2019, independent travel agent Hayes Travel announced that it had acquired 555 of Thomas Cook’s stores in the UK, saving approximately 2,500 jobs.