A HOUSING development which threatened Leigh’s bustling community centre is to be officially abandoned next week.

Southend Council’s new Tory administration will be asked to rubber stamp the quashing of the Elm Road housing development, which would have seen homes built in the community centre’s car park, on Tuesday at the first meeting of the cabinet committee since March.

A report prepared ahead of the meetings details corporate director for corporate services Sally Holland’s authorisation for dropping of the scheme in response to “changes in circumstance” and negative feedback from residents in Leigh.

Leigh Town Council chairman Carole Mulroney said: “When the proposal came forward 18 months ago, the town council, myself and my colleagues Alan Crystall and Peter Wexham on the borough council were extremely concerned there was housing proposed on the site.

“Since then, there’s been a change in circumstances, in that the borough council is currently finalising a new 30 year lease on the community centre and have now re-let the old council offices, which were empty before, so are getting income from that.

“In that respect we’re pleased it’s no longer going forward. The building is 102 years old and the town council took a leap of faith in taking it on when it was under threat, but we’ve made it into a thriving hub, which has revitalised the whole Elm Road area.”

Thorpe councillor Ron Woodley, whose administration decided against the development before it was booted out of office in May, said it no longer considered the development necessary.

He said: “The thinking was we didn’t think it was necessary so, if we didn’t need to do it, why do it?

“The car park is more important to Leigh, where parking is very tight, than a new housing development.”

In February a survey of the building found it was in need of £350,000 worth of repairs, primarily to replace the roof and windows which had not been touched since the structure was built more than a century ago, and to install a new heating system.

It was taken over by the town council in 2012, with a council tax precept of £5 per year levied on Leigh residents in order to fund it. However, despite this extra funding, the centre ran up five-figure losses in each of the two years after.