THE burnt out shell of a derelict building could be transformed into new flats following a devastating blaze.

Fresh plans have been submitted to Southend Council to transform the building, in Ambleside Drive, into two flats.

The building was formerly home to the Bits N Bobs store, with living accommodation above the shop.

However, much of it was destroyed by a fire in August, which investigators found had been started “deliberately”.

In plans submitted to the council on Wednesday, developer Great Plans has proposed to change the use of part of the ground floor from retail use to residential.

They also plan to build a single storey rear extension and convert the ground and first floor into two self-contained two-bedroomed flats, complete with parking for three cars, bin storage and cycle storage at the front.

Councillor Matt Dent, Labour councillor for the Kursaal ward, said: “I welcome something being done with the burnt out shell.

“There have been concerns raised by neighbours over previous planning applications. We need to have a proper look at the plans and check they are appropriate for the location. Something needs to be done with it.

“The fire was extremely unfortunate, but you can’t simply leave it with a massive hole in the roof. It’s an eyesore.”

Firefighters were called to junction of Ambleside Drive and Southchurch Avenue on August 28. Two properties were affected by the fire as crews tackled the blaze from both inside and outside using an aerial ladder platform. It was extinguished after around 90 minutes.

Before the fire, the building had already stood empty for five years. Several planning applications, including proposals to turn it into flats, have been rejected by Southend Council.

Residents have raised concerns over the derelict building which they say has become a “magnet” for drug addicts, as they can enter through the back door.

Mr Dent added: “Being left like that brings the whole street scene down. I’m hopeful that this is the right application to improve it.”

“We need to ensure the two flats proposed are liveable and appropriate. It depends on precisely how the applicant is planning to develop it.”