A FORMER hotel could be turned into bedsits despite residents’ fears Westcliff is being “turned into a slum town” by developers.

Planning officers have recommended plans are approved to turn 13 Cobham Road, Westcliff, into a 15-bedroom house of multiple occupation (HMO).

An application to turn the three-storey building, previously the Anchor Hotel, into a children’s home in 2019 was refused on the grounds it would mean a loss of visitor accommodation.

In 2022, plans to turn the building, close to the Leas Conservation Area, into an HMO were also refused for the same reason and because of “poor living conditions” for prospective tenants.

If approved it will be the latest in a series of HMOs to spring up across the city.

Suzi Caws from the South Westcliff Community Group, said: “People are not keen on it at all. No one is very happy about it and we’re not looking forward to it.

“It’s an open house for developers now. It’s going to make it a slum town.

“We’ve got all sorts of developers coming in from London.

“They just want to make a buck. They’re not interested in the town because they don’t live here.

“This area should be a prime area for lovely housing and for people to come and enjoy the seafront. Instead of that it’s being turned into a rubbish dump.”

The council has received ten letters of objection with concerns including loss of visitor accommodation, over-concentration of HMOs and flats in the area, the impact on the character of the building and the potential impact on neighbours of noise, litter, personal safety and security.

Nevertheless, a report to Southend’s development control committee, which meets next week, said none of the concerns were “ justifiable reasons for refusing planning permission”.

The report said: “The proposal has not fully addressed elements of policy in relation to the loss of visitor accommodation for the city. Weighing in support of the public benefits of the proposal are the provision of housing and the re-use of a vacant building.”