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Developer: Bell Hotel site is not for sale
6:00am Thursday 2nd January 2014 in News
THE owner of the former Bell Hotel, in Leigh, has reaffirmed his commitment to transform the site after it was advertised for sale as a development opportunity.
Property developer Robin Levy, 69, from Dengie, Southminster, quashed fears he was planning to sell the freehold of the derelict building, in Leigh Hill, Leigh, after it appeared to be up for sale on the Estates Gazette website.
Ayres & Cruiks, the estate agent which compiled the advertisement, said Estates Gazette was investigating why the hotel appeared as a “new instruction”.
Last month, Mr Levy, who runs Robin Levy Property Planning, in Alexandra Street, Southend, began demolishing buildings he plans to convert into five flats, to provide building land for three more blocks of 15 luxury apartments.
He said he would soon start work on the project, which would take two years.
However, the 100-year-old building, which closed as a hotel in the Fifties, is listed for sale on the website for £1.5million.
The advert says: “The new build section of the site is cleared and ready for construction.
“The hotel refurbishment plans provide for development over four floors, providing five flats. This development will be exclusive with a private driveway from Leigh Hill leading to a secluded hidden development.”
Mr Levy said he had previously offered the site for sale, but insisted it was no longer up for grabs and he had given no authorisation for any adverts to be updated after the site was cleared.
He said: “The Bell site is not up for sale. I can only imagine the details you refer to are aged.
“The new development, all as approved, will be constructed by my company all in accordance with the (previous) information.
“I can only imagine somebody in (Ayres & Cruiks) has updated an old advert without permission.
I repeat, the site is not for sale.”
A spokesman for Ayres and Cruiks said: “We have just updated our Estates Gazette website and for some reason the Bell Hotel has appeared as a ‘new instruction’. We don’t know why and Estates Gazette is looking into it.”
Mr Levy said his planning agent recently met council officers to discuss minor amendments to the plans that would allow for balconies and improved views from the flats.
The listing, which was online yesterday, had prompted fears among local politicians there may be further delays to the redevelopment, which has been held up by planning wrangles since Mr Levy bought it for £1.1million in May, 2005.
Peter Wexham, Lib Dem councillor for Leigh, has long feared the site won’t be redeveloped.
He said: “Hopefully, work will start soon.
“If it were on sale, my biggest fear is a new developer could have taken over and wanted to build its own plans and the whole planning process could have started again.
“In the meantime, the building would continue to deteriorate and it could get to the point it is so bad it cannot be saved and the whole thing has to come down.”
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