A LANDMARK pub is being sold, sparking fears it could be demolished and turned into flats.

The Rising Sun, at Sun Corner, Billericay, which opened in 1810, has been put on the market for £650,000.

An offer has been accepted by the owners, raising concerns it could have been snapped up by a housing developer.

When contacted by the Echo, commercial estate agent Alder Grimes Gooderham said it could not reveal who the buyer was as contracts had not yet been signed.

Meanwhile, trader Trevor Draper, who owns the Cook Shop in Billericay High Street, said businesses were struggling to survive in the town because of high rents and a lack of variety – and this latest sale was a worry.

He said: “The Rising Sun is up for sale for a reason, and that reason is the owners can’t afford to keep it open as it is.

“It’s a shame because it has been there for so long, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it sold to a developer for flats.

“There is a huge amount of change going on in the High Street area. There are a lot more eateries and drinking places, so there is a greater chance businesses will struggle to get enough footfall.”

He added: “The people of Billericay can’t complain about businesses closing if they won't use the facilities on offer.’’ The 14,000 sq ft pub, which has three floors, comes complete with outbuildings and venue space. It also has a 12 space car park and a beer garden.

Kevin Blake, deputy leader of Basildon Council and councillor for Burstead ward, said: “I’m sad to see the owners go. I have visited the pub on many occasions.

“I will be watching closely to see if a planning application comes in, but I think we should wait and see what happens.”

Mr Blake is trying to stay upbeat about the situation – and wouldn’t be keen on a housing development.

He said: “When one door closes another opens, and this could actually be for the better. A new owner could come forward and plough a lot of money into the business.

“I would be keen for it to stay as a pub, but it could end up becoming a restaurant. I certainly wouldn’t want hous there.’’ The Echo was unsuccessful in attempts to contact the pub owners.