Councillors have agreed that the Paddocks Community Centre on Canvey should be demolished and rebuilt.

Castle Point Council’s cabinet met on Tuesday night to vote on the fate of the well-loved community centre and agreed that replacing it with a modern facility would provide long-term savings for the borough.

The current building can accommodate events for up to 500 people but is under-used and facing rising operational costs, which need to be paid for by council taxpayers in the borough. A council report from January had branded it “beyond economic repair”.

Council leader Norman Smith said: “What we are trying to do is not close this down because it’s losing money but we want to have a proper hall there that is going to facilitate the future.”

Councillor Jeffrey Stanley presented a report on the council’s options for the centre and called it “the biggest commercial contract the council will have undertaken in many, many years”, with the new facility costing the council £4.3million.

He said: “While this hall is well loved, it’s not particularly well used and it is a significant financial burden on the council. We know that next year, from the income we are getting from council tax, cuts to central government grants and increasing costs, we need to make savings. We need to look at reducing the costs and if we can reduce the cost of running the hall we should look at doing that.”

He added that the annual cost of running a new building would be £63,000, while the cost of running the same building following a refurbishment would be £103,000.

Mr Smith admitted to the cabinet that it is not yet known how the new building would be financed because consultations are yet to take place and a final cost has not been confirmed.

The demolition of the building has been widely opposed in the community who have called for the centre to be refurbished but the cost, according to the council, would be £4.1million, just £200,000 less than demolishing and replacing the building entirely.

Councillor Dave Blackwell said: “You talk about a new build but saying the refurbishment will cost £4.1million is a nonsense figure and that is a figure made up to make people think you are better off knocking the paddocks down and think they are better off building a new hall.

“We’ve got no money in the budget to spend £4.3million for a new build so how are you going to pay for new hall? People want assurances that the council will not allow any further development on the Paddocks to pay for a new hall. I can only see one way you will pay for it and that is to allow some form of development on the Paddocks because there isn’t the finances to fork out for a new hall.”

Councillor John Anderson said: “The paddocks should be refurbished not knocked down and the cabinet and their statements tonight are wrong.”

Following the decision, the council will begin working towards a public consultation which will take place sometime in November and the results will contribute to the formation of a comprehensive design document.