A FORMER Southend school uniform shop beloved by families for almost 50 years could be transformed into flats under fresh plans.

Pauls School and Workwear closed in Southchurch Road last December after decades being the go-to shop for school uniforms and has remained empty ever since.

Now plans have been submitted to Southend Council by developer Eade Planning to see the ground floor converted into two studio flats with a small retail space being retained.

Ian Gilbert, Labour councillor for regeneration, has called the loss of the iconic shopfront “a shame”, admitting it would have been preferred for a large shop to come in and fill the space.

He said: “It is a shame to lose retail frontages and to lose them in such prime locations, I do accept we are in the heyday of internet shopping and have more retail space than is actually needed but it is a key location.

“It would be a shame to see it converted. I am all in favour of housing, I welcome housing in and around shops as that does help bring a livelier sense to the street and its surroundings.”

Mr Gilbert added that while Southend is in need of housing, there are other ways to approach the issue than convert recognisable shops.

“Housing is needed to bring buildings back into productive use rather than just leaving shops vacant.

“In terms of locations such as this though, my preference would be around and above the store rather than losing the frontages.”

Pauls School and Workwear had been selling branded south Essex school and plain uniforms, as well as general work gear since 1975.

Under the plans, submitted last week, the use of the building would be changed from retail to residential.

Plans show two studio flats with living, dining and kitchen areas alongside a much smaller retail space.

The top two floors above the shop, which are currently used as flats, would remain untouched during the work.