PLANS to transform part of a 233-year-old former hotel in Southend High Street into flats “will have no detrimental impact” on the heritage of the Grade II Listed building, it has been claimed.

Earlier this year, proposals were put to Southend Council to convert the upper two floors of the historic Royal Hotel as well as its neighbouring Princess Caroline House into 17 luxury flats. 

Echo: The Royal Hotel and the Princess Caroline HouseThe Royal Hotel and the Princess Caroline House (Image: Southend Planning Portal)

Despite the plans vowing to protect the exterior of the buildings, historian Marion Pearce and others raised major concerns some of the character of the buildings could be lost forever.

However, a heritage statement, prepared by historic buildings’ consultant Michael Copeman, insists the proposed alterations will uphold the building’s architectural and historical integrity

The findings from the consultant state that the alterations will have “no detrimental impact on the heritage significance”.

Echo: The rear of the Royal HotelThe rear of the Royal Hotel (Image: Southend Planning Portal)

It adds: “The scheme is a sustainable development, which will secure the future of the listed building in a viable long-term use.

“The alterations will have no detrimental impact on the heritage significance of the listed building, its setting or on the architectural or historic character or appearance of the conservation area.

“The exterior of the building, from which its heritage significance largely derives, will be unaffected.

Echo: Inside the historic buildingInside the historic building (Image: Southend Planning Portal)

“The limited architectural and historic intertest of the interior, including the primary structure, staircase and historic joinery will be preserved in the conversion work.

“All work will be carried out to high standards of design and construction, using traditional materials and details where they are appropriate.”

Echo: The offices within the buildingThe offices within the building (Image: Southend Planning Portal)

The private basement bar, ground floor restaurant and ballroom would remain untouched at the Royal Hotel, initially built in 1791. The plans would only see the upper two floors of the Royal Hotel, which are used as offices, under the plans.

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

Echo: The rear of the Princess Caroline House The rear of the Princess Caroline House (Image: Southend Planning Portal)

Conservative councillor Daniel Nelson said: “It is fantastic news that the heritage of our city will not be impacted by this planning application.

“I would rather see it in use than have an empty and unused building in the High Street. It should be seen as a positive thing and part of the regeneration in our city.”