PART of a 240-year-old former hotel in Southend High Street could be transformed into flats under new plans.

Fresh plans have been put forward to convert the upper two floors of the historic and Grade II listed Royal Hotel as well as its neighbouring Princess Caroline House into 17 plush flats.

The private basement bar, ground floor restaurant and ballroom would remain untouched at the former hotel which was initially built in 1791 and was once visited by Princess Caroline, Princess of Wales.

The neighbouring Princess Caroline House is now used as offices and would be fully transformed into flats.

Under the plans, the exterior of both buildings would be untouched.

Echo: Historic - the Royal Hotel was built in 1791Historic - the Royal Hotel was built in 1791 (Image: Archive)

Daniel Nelson, Conservative councillor responsible for economic growth and investment, said: “The Princess Caroline House and hotel are historic buildings, so I hope they will be in keeping with that history.

“However, if it means the building will be used and not become dilapidated and unused, I think it is very much welcomed.

“There are a multitude of residential properties along the High Street already, so it is not a surprise. In terms of an economic standpoint, it would be a good as it increases footfall and people’s respect as people tend to be more respectful in areas where people live.

“I would like the council to look at more residential use along the High Street, as there is huge amounts of empty spaces above High Street units which could be used for much-needed housing for young people who relish living in the High Street.”

The proposed development does not seek to make external changes to the building with the exception of four additional conservation skylights.

The planning applicant stated in the plans: “The change of use of the building to create 17 dwellings would be of an acceptable layout and design avoiding removal of historic features and retaining valuable parts of the building.

“The proposed development would not materially harm the character of the listed building nor the conservation area.

“The planning application would provide much needed housing in the borough in a sustainable location and secure the future of the Grade II listed building.”