A POPULAR nightspot is up for sale, sparking renewed fears for the future of Wickford High Street.
Bar Plazma has been put on the market for £295,000, just two years after new owner Fraser Donaldson took over.
Worried councillors fear Wickford as a whole would suffer if a buyer decided to turn the building into something other than a sports bar and lounge, which it has been for 12 years.
They say it could even put £3.2million plans to regenerate the town centre in jeopardy.
David Harrison, Ukip councillor for Wickford Park ward, said: “Bar Plazma is the only bar of its type in Wickford.
“I always thought it was popular and doing really well.
“It would be such a loss if it didn’t continue as it is now. It's important for us to have a night time economy in the town. We can’t afford to lose any more High Street premises.”
Michael Mowe, Tory councillor for Wickford North, added: “It is an important asset for Wickford. We need something like Bar Plazma to keep the High Street going.
"It is open in the day for tea, coffee and lunch, and in the evening it caters for a different clientele. I’ve never heard of any trouble there.
“Whenever I have been in for lunch it has always been fairly busy, so I wouldn't have thought it was struggling.
“We’ve got a lot of changes going on in Wickford at the moment and we need to keep the momentum going.”
The 4,100 sq ft bar was originally opened in 2002 by Douglas Quirk, who was also behind the Ivory Rooms in Billericay. and trades daily from 7am until 2am.
It has a main bar area, a separate cocktail bar, and an outdoor dining area, capable of accommodating 300 people in total.
Mr Quirk retired two years ago, handing over to Mr Donaldson, who came in with more than 20 years experience running nightclubs.
At the time, he said: “I am very excited to come back to Essex with this new business and hope to grow the business for as many years as Douglas.”
When the Echo tried to contact Mr Donaldson yesterday for a comment, his staff told us he was away, but theywould try to getamessage to him. He did not get back to us before the paper went to press.