DEVELOPERS have revealed when they're set to start building 144 new retirement flats planned to replace a historic Southend convent as demolition gets underway.

Last year, permission was granted to dismantle Nazareth House, in London Road, to make way for a retirement living complex and work officially began on the site yesterday.

Developer McCarthy Stone has now revealed construction will begin this summer and released two new images of the proposed homes.

The completed development will be made up of 144 one and two-bedroom properties.

Designed to meet the needs of those over 60 years of age, apartments are set to combine “intelligent, ergonomic design” with “tasteful decor”, and will sit alongside communal spaces, such as landscape gardens, a guest suite, and a lounge for social events and activities.

However, to make space for the development, a 19th Century chapel on the site will also be dismantled.

Echo: A CGI of the plansA CGI of the plans (Image: McCarthy Stone)

Demolition company Shorts Group has confirmed the flooring and doors from the original chapel will be salvaged for a future building project.

Tony Cox, leader of Southend Council, raised concerns about the importance of “preserving the historic and symbolic buildings from our city”.

He said: “My personal preference would be for the chapel itself to have been retained.

“I don’t have a problem with what’s been proposed. The site is ripe for development. But for its history, it would have been nice to keep the chapel.”

Derek Jarvis, councillor responsible for culture and heritage, says views over preserving the site’s historic features were “thoroughly aired” during the planning process.

He said: “I would like to see it preserved and argued very strongly to keep it and make it a public reminder of what once stood there. I was shot down on every front.”

Nazareth House, established in 1873 to house sick children and the elderly, closed in 2020.

It followed a battle between the Nazareth Care Charitable Trust and Southend Council over whether to demolish and rebuild it.

Sam Watkins, divisional sales director at McCarthy Stone, said: “The development on London Road is going to be crucial in opening up a number of different retirement living opportunities for retirees from Southend and the surrounding areas.

“McCarthy Stone is committed to designing flexible homes which reflect the character of the neighbourhood, while also allowing people to make the most of their retirement years and live as independently as possible, for as long as possible.”