THE WORRIED owners of a restaurant, bar, and ballroom inside the historic Royal Hotel fear their business could be negatively impacted by plans for luxury apartments.

Under proposals submitted to Southend Council the top two floors of the Royal Hotel and the whole of Princess Caroline House next door could be converted to 17 flats. 

The lower three floors of the historic High Street building has been a popular venue for live music since businessman Terry Garrett and his sons David and Matt took over the grade II-listed Georgian building in 2015.

Echo: The top two floors of the Royal Hotel and the whole of Princess Caroline House could become flats.The top two floors of the Royal Hotel and the whole of Princess Caroline House could become flats. (Image: Ben Shahrabi)


They fear if flats are built, residents may complain about the noise but David Gutwirth, director at Dimensions Planning and Architecture which is working on the plan, has insisted the flats will be fully soundproofed and have “no impact” on the businesses below.  

Leaseholder Mr Garrett, 73, said: “The plans suggest there would be flats above our ballroom, alongside our bar, and above our basement bar, Legbas, which runs under Princess Caroline House. We are concerned, especially about soundproofing.

“Could there be a situation where the Royal Hotel can no longer continue as a hospitality venue? Would the business fail as it can no longer do music or even host people?

“If the new residents were to complain to the council about the noise, who knows what would happen? The effect could be very significant.”




The first-floor ballroom hosts live music, comedy nights, weekly jazz sessions, weddings and parties. 

He said: “This is a business which turns over in excess of a million pounds every year. It’s more than just my son and I, we’ve got 30 employees and more in the summer season. The council might get rates from those flats, but it could lose hundreds of thousands of pounds in VAT every year from us.”

However, Mr Garrett hopes the business will continue trading “for many decades to come”.

He added: “I don’t want to be too ‘doom and gloom’. We’ve got event bookings all the way through the year into 2025, so we’re carrying on as normal.”

David Gutwirth, Director at Dimensions Planning and Architecture, said: “There will be soundproofing of all the floors, ceiling and walls. As the building is listed, we’re not proposing any external alterations, so all the work will be done internally.

“The insulation we’re proposing is quite robust. It’s a crucial part of our application. The flats should not affect the business below at all.

“I’m absolutely confident the soundproofing will be more than sufficient between the commercial and residential parts of the building. We strongly believe it will rejuvenate and bring life to that area of the High Street.”