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Mick’s Grand plan hits another hitch
AMBITIOUS plans to revive Leigh’s Grand Hotel could have been dealt a fatal blow.
Mick Norcross’s proposal to transform the landmark building into a boutique hotel and spa has repeatedly stalled and been resurrected since it first emerged last year.
But The Only Way is Essex star’s idea may now be dead in the water, after planning officers at Southend Council refused to support its latest incarnation.
Mr Norcross will attempt to secure planning permission for a three-storey extension to the hotel at a development control committee meeting on Wednesday.
He claims the extension is essential if the revival is to go ahead, but in a report for councillors, planning officers recommended the proposals be thrown out.
Andrew Lewis, corporate director for enterprise, tourism and the environment, said: “While the refurbishment and extension of this key local landmark in Leigh is supported in principle, it should not be at the expense of the character and appearance of the existing building.
“It is considered the proposed three-storey extension is excessively large.”
The Grade II-listed Grand, which was built in 1896, has been empty since it closed in December 2008.
Mr Norcross, who also owns the Sugar Hut nightclub, in Brentwood, divided opinion when he revealed his plans to restore it.
Traders in the Broadway have thrown their weight behind the idea, claiming it would revitalise the site.
However, after objections from residents and police, councillors refused to allow the hotel’s bar to stay open until 2.30am on Fridays and Saturdays during a crunch meeting in March.
Mr Norcross went to court to appeal the decision, claiming the business would not turn a profit with reduced hours.
He withdrew that appeal last month, shortly after submitting fresh plans for the extension that would add an extra five bedrooms at the rear of the hotel and expand the kitchen.
Mr Norcross said the extra rooms would make up for the income shortfall created by the licensing decision.
However, the planning officers’ ruling may torpedo the revival for good if it is rubber-stamped by councillors when they meet next week.
The news has been met with disappointment by residents living around the site.
Lilian Jones, 67, of nearby Leighton Avenue, Leigh, said: “I didn’t think an extension would be the best solution, but it’s better than nothing at all.”