THE final touches are being made to new luxury flats at a former Westcliff art gallery which will be fully completed “by the end of February”.

The transformation of the old Beecroft Art Gallery, opposite the Cliffs Pavilion, into nine apartments was due to be complete this month but has been pushed back due to “handmade and very niche” roof tiles being damaged.

Scaffolding still surrounds the Edwardian building. However developer Property Point Homes insists half of it will be removed “in the next two weeks”.

Director Lee Gayler said: “There’s one roofer who’s still finishing the leadwork, so the scaffolding at the front is there for his safety. That’s pretty much finished.”

Meanwhile, Mr Gayler says the “finishing touches” are being put on the show flat.

He added: “We’ve already had a couple of viewings, but it won’t be on the market for a few months.”

Mr Gayler described the transformation process as “a bit of a juggling act”, as certain aspects of the development must be completed before other work can begin.

He said: “There was a big delay on our roof tiles, which are all handmade and very niche and traditional. A couple of them cracked in the furnace. We can’t start the other work or take the scaffolding down until the roof’s done.”

Southend Council sold the building, on Westcliff Avenue, for more than £1million last year. The gallery was donated to Southend by lawyer and art collector Walter Beecroft in 1952.

Despite the delay, Mr Gayler says the external building works are “90 per cent finished”.

However, the developer admitted there was still “a lot to do” on the flats themselves.

Mr Gayler added: “It’s all been stripped back to the brickwork. Everything is completely new. Once the scaffolding at the front comes down, we can get the utilities in. But it should be ready towards the end of February.”

Mike Gray, managing director at Dedman Gray estate agents, says he is “delighted” with how the transformation was progressing.

He said: “A great deal of effort has gone towards retaining the original character of the building. The specification of many developments seems to be based on the cost. But in the Beecroft scheme, the developers have focused more on the quality.”