A NEGLECTED town centre tower block has finally been sold after four years, the Echo can reveal.

Campaigners hope plans to convert the iconic Trafford House tower in Cherrydown East, Basildon, into plush flats, bars and restaurants, will now progress.

Previous owners Colonnade had stalled on converting the building into 359 flats and 12,000 sq ft of shops and restaurants since buying the building in 2010.

Marketing firm London29 have now said ity sold the building to Criterion Capital, an asset management business with a big property portfolio in London.

Using new Government rules, it has submitted a revised planning application to convert Trafford House into 348 flats.

Danny Lovey, of Ross Way, Langdon Hills, said: “I’m pleased the building has been purchased by someone that would appear to want to develop it.

“Throughout the time Colonnade owned the building they never wanted to develop it.

Hopefully, Criterion will bring the plans to a speedy conclusion and actually develop the building, which is long overdue.”

In March, RMD Trafford House 2000, a firm believed to be linked to Colonnade, successfully got an extension on the existing planning permission for 359 flats and retail or leisure space at the building.

Criterion Capital has a choice of moving forward with that scheme, or its own planning proposal it has submitted to Basildon Council.

It is not known where Criterion’s scheme involves creating commercial space at the bottom of the building.

Plans to convert the tower block, formerly home of Ford in Basildon, have been afoot since 2010 when images of a tree-lined Cherrydown East, with the building sporting a vastly modern look.

However, Colonnade put it back up for sale in 2011.

Richard Moore, Tory councillor responsible for regeneration on Basildon Council, said: “This seems to be positive news as Colonnade did not have a great track record in Basildon.

“As the new firm is an asset management company, that would indicate that they are likely to do something to the building. We will wait and see for further details from the application.”

The Echo contacted Criterion but they did not respond to our request for comment before we went to press.