AN American burger chain is poised to open a new restaurant in Southend High Street after plans for new signs were given the green light.

Wendy’s, which boasts hundreds of restaurants across America but just dozens in the UK, is set to open in Southend High Street replacing the former Ponden Home interiors store.

The shop has been empty for four years and the plans to open a new restaurant in the vacant site have been welcomed.

The burger restaurant will open just four doors away from McDonald’s in Southend High Street, and will join a growing number of cafes, bars and restaurants in the city centre.

A number of big-name fast-food restaurants have opened in the city centre in recent years, including Taco Bell, Wagamama and Wingstop.

Plans have also been submitted and are being considered by Southend Council for coffee shop Black Sheep Coffee to open in the former Post Office at the top of the High Street next to Burger King.

The green light comes just weeks after Wendy’s had plans approved by Basildon Council for a new restaurant at the Festival Leisure Park.

Colin Campbell, Conservative Southend councillor responsible for economic growth and investment, welcomed the news.

He said: “I am delighted to have another business open up on our high street.

“This proves that Southend is open for investment, and businesses can see the potential that our city has to offer.

“At a time when high streets across the country are struggling, Southend is attracting business and bringing footfall to our local economy.”

The plans include new signage and advertisements to go in the windows of the empty shop. Wendy’s has also recently opened a store in Chelmsford High Street, as well as already operating a restaurant in Colchester.

Despite the growing number of fast-food restaurants in Southend city centre, Mr Campbell insisted competition is a positive thing for residents.

Mr Campbell added: “Competition is good for consumers and having a choice is great for residents.

“However, I do believe that we need to widen the range and diversity of businesses in the high street to attract even more trade to the area.”