A DERELICT former theatre and cinema just off Southend High Street has been put on the market for £2.5 million ahead of being transformed into flats and boutique shops.

Plans for 22 flats and seven boutique shops at the old Empire Theatre, in Alexandra Street, were approved by Southend Council last year in the hope of helping “regenerate the town centre”.

Part of the building has already been demolished and now leading Southend estate agent Dedman Gray has listed the building on the market so it can be sold and work can begin.

Echo: Old view - Alexandra Street in 1908Old view - Alexandra Street in 1908 (Image: File photo)

The property listing shows eight one bed flats, ten two bed flats and four three bed flats linked to the planning consent from earlier this year.

Managing director of Dedman Gray, Mike Gray welcomes the plans and noted a promising start at attracting initial interest.

He said: “Having gone through a lengthy process to obtain planning consent for our merged scheme it is good to see the old theatre go on the market as a prospective buyer awaits to deliver on the scheme, it has been a long time.

“We are seeking to work with experienced developers who are keen to make the very most of a building like this, the boutique shops and the accommodation are important to kick-starting the regeneration of the town centre and Alexandra Street.”

Echo: Plans - Empire TheatrePlans - Empire Theatre (Image: Dedman Gray)

Located between Alexandra Street and Clarence Street, the theatre was originally set to be 27 flats but was scaled back to 22 during the planning process.

Mr Gray added that the old theatre site was already attracting interest from prospective buyers.

“One of the key attractions of the site that has been pointed out is the link it provides between both Clarence Road and Alexandra Street,” he added.

“It offers an almost ‘boutique’ connection between both of the roads that prove lucrative, that is where the plans currently stand.

“It is good to see the plans get off the ground and push forward the area.”

In the past, the site has been a magnet for vandals and antisocial behaviour until it was partially demolished and boarded up.