THE long-awaited regeneration of the dilapidated Laindon Centre could be put on hold once again after its new owners ran into financial difficulty.

Hopes were raised the Sixties complex, off High Road, Laindon, was finally going to be transformed with a mix of new shops and homes after developer Mar City exchanged contracts with Basildon Council in January.

Last month, the Echo revealed the firmhad signed up Swan Housing to lead the major regeneration, but it has now emerged shares on Mar City have been suspended after prices plummeted.

The Birmingham-based company has been de-listed from the Alternative Investment Market after failing to appoint a nominated adviser and the resignation of its board chairman.

An internal review also showed pre-tax profits for the last year were well below expectations.

John Scarola, Labour councillor for Laindon Park, said the latest blow follows a long line of disappointments in relation to the Laindon Centre. He added: “I’m very concerned. We have been waiting 19 years for this regeneration, but nothing is happening.

“We’re getting nowhere fast and I’m really worried for the traders down there. At the end of the day, we want a viable shopping centre.

“I wouldn’t send my worst enemy there at the moment.”

Linda Allport-Hodge, Ukip group leader and ward councillor for Langdon Hills, said: “We had a members’ briefing back in February because Ukip were extremely disappointed with the way local residents have been ignored.

“We were very pleased to hear that Mar City had completed a deal just before the election, but have are now being advised that Swan Housing have stepped in. We’ve been completely left in the dark.”

The Tory administration insists the project will still go ahead.

In an email sent to councillors, Claire Hamilton, head of regeneration and economic development, said: “When Swan Housing Association became aware of the stockmarket position regarding Mar City it chose to take the lead on the scheme and completed the acquisition for Swan. Swan is now working to agree what level of involvement Mar City will have in this project in the future. This decision will not affect the delivery of the project by Swan Housing Association.”

The news comes just days after Morrisons announced it is reviewing its proposed superstore in Pitsea, casting doubt over the £30million regeneration of the town.

The Echo also revealed 40 shops in Basildon town centre currently stand empty.

Setback is latest in a long line of problems

THE Laindon Centre regeneration has run into endless problems over the past 19 years.

Basildon Council first threatened to take compulsory purchase of the site in 2006 after Lakehill Investments failed to begin with work on 21 shops and 173 homes.

Financial problems forced the firm to put the centre on the market, with Colonade, which later become Laindon Regeneration, buying it for £11.5million in 2007.

A shopping area, new homes, health centre and a supermarket were promised, but once again the plans failed to materialise.

Laindon Regeneration went into administration in 2013, with BDO taking over the dayto- day running of the site.

Bride Hall Group was hired to conduct a feasibility study, but there was a delay finding a potential buyer before Mar City stepped in at the beginning of this year.