Basildon Council could step in and forcibly buy the Laindon Shopping Centre in a bid to kickstart its regeneration.
Fed-up councillors say developers – who have been talking about renovating the facility since 1996 – are taking too long to seal a deal to purchase the centre from its current owner and build a 70,000 square foot Morrison’s supermarket on the site.
Malcolm Buckley , Basildon Council’s councillor responsible for regeneration, has given property firm Wrenbridge until September to close the deal for the centre’s future, or the authority will step in and buy it, finding their own new developer.
Mr Buckley said: “I am acutely aware the situation regarding future investment and regeneration of the site is not good enough. Something needs to change, and something needs to happen, and soon.
“We were very confident earlier this year and a deal was very close to being signed between the current owners, a prospective buyer and a major supermarket chain.
“Discussions have been ongoing since then, and these parties are still negotiating and are hopeful of reaching an agreement within the next few weeks.
“However, this situation cannot continue indefinitely and the time has now come for us to consider our options if no deal is signed during August.
“If no deal is forthcoming by the start of September, then I have instructed council officers to consider all options for the future of this site, including the use of compulsory purchase, which would involve the council finding a development partner who will redevelop and regenerate the site if necessary.”
Last month a deal involving property firm Wrenbridge buying the site from current owner’s Laindon Regeneration was put on hold.
Jeff Wilson, director at Wrenbridge, said the deal had been held up because Morrison’s had yet to sign their part of the agreement to build a store at the centre, creating 300 jobs.
But he remained hopeful a final deal could be struck by mid-August.
However, Mr Buckley, although “hopeful” a deal may still be agreed between Morrisons and Wrenbridge, is adamant the council is not prepared to wait any longer.
He added: “We are still confident, but felt it important to make it clear to the local community that any more delays and hold ups are not acceptable, and we will take action, including compulsory purchase if no deal is forthcoming this month.”
Wrenbridge and Morrisons were unavailable to comment.