WORKS are rapidly progressing to transform a former pub into a £125million deluxe complex of seafront apartments - and two restaurants.

It was confirmed in June that the work taking place at the former Esplanade pub will be finished next year, although they won’t go on sale until Easter 2021 to allow for coronavirus fears to settle.

After the derelict building was vandalised numerous times, the building eventually became too dangerous, after its last arson attack saw the entire building go up in flames.

Beyond the Box Developments demolished the derelict pub and neighbouring Marriott’s Fish and Chip Shop last year as part of ambitious plans for 49 flats and two restaurants in Western Esplanade, Southend.

As with other developments, the coronavirus crisis saw work halted on the site during a nationwide lockdown, but the developer insists it remains on track.

Workmen have been seen on site on a daily basis, and the whole building is starting to take shape.

For months the building was boarded up high and it was impossible to see beyond the fencing, due to how cautious developers had to be to assess the site properly before allowing anyone on it.

James Struth, from Beyond the Box Developments, described the building as “scary” when going inside for the first time after the last fire.

He hinted at a launch coming soon for buyers, but remained tight-lipped on any further details. However, Mr Struth advised to keep a close eye out for an “exciting update”.

The developer did confirm works were set for completion in October/November 2021.

Most residents will be glad to see the back of the “eye-sore”, but others feel a sense of sadness and nostalgia.

Mandy Follett, 32, of Queens Road, in Southend, said: “I was gutted when the Esplanade pub closed down and even more so once it started getting vandalised all the time. I have so many amazing memories of the best nights ever there.

“So to see all the scaffolding around it is bitter sweet. It’s great something is finally being with done. I have to drive past it every day to go to work and it’s just not nice.

“I’m sure it’ll be stunning but not somewhere I’ll ever have the luxury of being able to buy or rent. It’ll always be the Esplanade pub to me!”