AN iconic building is “falling apart” as its future remains in limbo following a planning dispute.
An application to transform the Grand Hotel, on the Broadway, Leigh, is now not expected to go before Southend Council’s planning committee until the summer. A decision was expected to be made this month.
The delay has sparked concerns over the building falling into a state of disrepair, with vandals smashing a window last week.
It comes after owner Mick Norcross, who is known for his role in reality TV show The Only Way is Essex, withdrew plans in January to allow for further talks with Southend Council.
He told the Echo he has still not been able to come to an agreement with the authority over the provision of affordable housing.
Mr Norcross wants to create a ground floor restaurant and terrace, a basement wine bar and health club, plus 19 self-contained flats on three floors, as well as a penthouse roof extension.
The 53-year-old said: “We are just trying to make sure the building is still there in 100 years. It has got to be fit to last. I will persevere and get there in the end.
“We have more meetings with the council this week. We are still working on narrowing our differences on the viability report. At the earliest, I don’t think the plans will be ready until May or even June.”
The report looks at how much the development will cost and how much profit it will make. It also determines the amount of affordable housing needed.
Mr Norcross said: “It is all about social housing – there is a standard amount required for any development and we are working towards what is necessary.
“There is so much back and forth and in the meantime the building is falling apart. It is also costing a lot, there is interest on the purchase, the cost of the planning process, ongoing security and I have no guarantee. Last week someone even broke a window that was boarded up.
“But I am still determined and positive. I have invested a lot of time and money into this and it is the only viable scheme for the building so we are sticking to our guns.”
A Southend Council spokesman said: “Discussions are ongoing with the applicant in respect of the financial viability of the scheme. This will determine whether or not affordable housing can be provided as part of the development. The matter will be put before the council’s development control committee once this matter has been fully explored.”