SOUTHEND’S new £35million museum could be built within six years.

Bosses at Southend Council have revealed they hope to finish the stunning facility, rising from the heart of the seafront cliffs, between 2018 and 2020.

They will unveil the official plans for the project on Monday, after more than 18 months of detailed preparations.

Bosses have also promised to reopen the area of the cliff gardens, closed by a series of landslips a decade ago, by next summer. Derek Jarvis, the Tory councillor responsible for culture, said: “I am absolutely delighted we have got to this stage.

“This has been a long-term project which we have had to be patient with, but I am glad we can show we are moving forward and making real progress.”

The idea of building a museum complex as the centrepiece of the plans to shore up the cliffs emerged in 2008. Two years later, architects AEW unveiled the first amazing images of the building’s four floating “eyes”, which will look out over the Thames estuary.

However, finding the funds for the project has proved tricky and bosses have previously refused to place a deadline on the museum’s completion.

Chiefs remain tight-lipped about where the money might be found, although bids to organisations such as the Arts Council are likely.

However they hope to secure planning permission within three months and start work on the stabilisation process soon afterwards.

The council has set aside £3.2million for the work, which will insert a huge steel frame into the cliffs, near Clifftown Parade. That will fulfill the dual role of preventing any further slippages and acting as the back wall of the seven-storey museum.

Simon Leftley, the council’s corporate director of adult and community services, said: “We hope work will go fairly smoothly and we’ll be able to reopen the cliff gardens to the public by summer 2013. That will prepare the way for work on the museum to begin, once the funding has been secured.”