A NEW McDonald’s could have opened opposite Southend Pier, a businessman has claimed.

Peter Woolf, who holds the lease to two outlets built during a £6million revamp of Pier Hill, has revealed the fast food chain was heavily interested in the ground-floor site 18 months ago.

He claims the deal fell through because council chiefs miscalculated the size of the outlet, which is actually three times bigger than he thought, and McDonald’s needed more room.

Mr Woolf said: “It was a very good chance to let it, but when I told them it was 650sq ft, because that’s what I’d been told, they said they needed a minimum of 1,000sq ft.

“Now I find out it’s actually about 2,200sq ft. It is ridiculous.”

Southend Council used European grant money to fund the revamp of Pier Hill, which included the Sky Tower observation platform, its lifts and the two empty outlets.

It was finished in 2005 and an agreement was reached with Mr Woolf to lease the shops, but problems with leaking water meant the deal was not finalised until last summer. When council bosses advertised the outlets in 2005, the ground-floor was listed as 650sq ft and the first-floor as 325sq ft.

Mr Woolf claims his surveyors have now revised that figure to 2,200sq ft and 440sq ft respectively.

He believes the bigger outlets would have been more attractive and could have been let by now, if he had known their true size.

He said: “It’s easy to say: ‘Why didn’t you notice they were bigger?’, but I’m not a builder.

“It’s a big space, but estimating the size is not easy if you don’t do that kind of thing regularly.

“It could have made a big difference.”