Crucial works are now underway to completely modernise and revamp a major gateway into Southend town centre.

The next phase of the £4million project- otherwise known as the Southend Central Area Transport Scheme (S-CATS)- will see the road realigned to restrict vehicles and encourage visitors to move freely about the town.

New access restrictions will also be put in place on Southend High Street from London Road and are set to be controlled by CCTV and a rising bollard system.

Other features of the transformation also include relocating taxi bays along London Road, improving street lighting and CCTV as well as introducing more modern paving to improve accessibility of the area and make it more appealing to the eye.

New secure cycle parking, benches and planters are also set to be installed, along with new trees, greenery, and better signage and wayfinding measures to point guests towards key distinations in and around the high street.

Landscaping improvements are also included in the overhaul, with the area also set to benefit from a sustainable urban drainage system.

And the project has been funded through the Local Growth Fund, in a bid to improve travel and public spaces in the town centre to support housing and employment growth.

The plans were approved by Full Council in June this year and following the easing of lockdown measures, work recommenced and is now expected to be completed April 2021.

Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, capital and inward investment, said: “Victoria Circus and London Road are a main gateway into the High Street, and as such we are keen to improve this area.

“The designs were devised following many different consultation events, where residents and businesses have told us what they would like to see.

"Improved street lighting and introducing trees and planters were a common theme, and so I am pleased that the works will include these aspects.

“With the challenges that came with the pandemic, we had to delay the works whilst we battled the virus, but I am delighted to see works recommence so that we can create an area that invites visitors and will hopefully boost numbers for the local businesses in the area.”

Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, has also welcomed the investments.

He said: “Like many areas across the country, Southend High Street is facing unprecedented challenges, now more so than ever before.

“This funding – secured from the Local Growth Fund (LGF) – must be used explicitly on highways and will help us provide a more attractive environment for shoppers, visitors and potential and achieve far more than could have been imagined through our finances alone.

“This area has needed investment for some time, so I am pleased to see the works begin to take shape, and I look forward to seeing the completed works.”

Christian Brodie, South East Local Enterprise Partnership chair, said: “We are really pleased to see this project moving forward.

"As shopping and leisure habits continue to change and our communities are becoming more digitally driven, it is vital we make our town centres more attractive places to visit, and easier and safer to get around for cyclists and pedestrians.

“The health and wellbeing of our town centres has a significant impact on the area’s economy and influences investment decisions and the ability to attract and retain businesses and visitors.”