8:00am Wednesday 20th June 2012
By Steve Hackwell
FRESH plans to revive Leigh’s Grand Hotel have been drawn up by reality TV star Mick Norcross.
The Only Way is Essex performer’s proposal to transform the landmark building into a boutique hotel and spa, stalled earlier this year when Southend Council rejected a bid for a late alcohol licence.
In the wake of that decision, Mr Norcross said the business may not be financially viable.
He has now returned to the authority with a new idea to boost profits, by adding a three-storey extension providing extra bedrooms and an expanded kitchen for the hotel.
In a statement, Mr Norcross’s planning agent said: “The project still requires more facilities to make it a truly viable business.
“In order to ensure the development has longevity, the business plan must be sustainable and profitable for the dream to become a reality.”
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 to its former glory last year. 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.
That decision appeared to cast doubt over the future of the scheme, despite councillors giving the thumbs-up to a single-storey extension shortly afterwards.
Mr Norcross appealed the decision and a court hearing is due to be held next month.
Now the businessman has submitted a fresh planning application for the extension, which would supersede his previous proposals.
The new development, if approved, would add an extra five bedrooms at the rear of the Grand and extend the kitchen, as well as providing space for the spa.
Lilian Jones, 67, of nearby Leighton Avenue, Leigh, said: “I think it would be good for the area.
“It might be a bit more noticeable, but something needs to be done with that building.”
Grace Maunders, 61, of the same road, added: “I like the look of the building as it is, but I’d rather it was used as a hotel again than as a shop or something like that.”
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