A REALITY star developer has spoken out about his multi-million pound plans for a landmark pub site, as campaigners demand it becomes a Wetherspoons pub.

Mick Norcross, 56, says his plans for 18 homes, a basement spa, restaurants and bars at The Grand Hotel, Broadway, Leigh are going full steam ahead.

But hundreds of residents are calling for budget pub chain Wetherspoons to take it over.

Mr Norcross, of The Only Way Is Essex fame, has branded the petition as “nonsense.”

However, Damian Smith, 55, of Leigh, the man behind the petition, said: “I have spent many great times at The Grand and I find it very upsetting to see it as it looks.

“I have no criticisms for Mr Norcross, in fact I admire his efforts.

“It’s exposed to the elements and I am concerned it’s becoming beyond economic repair.

“There are some fantastic Wetherspoons pubs bucking the pub closing trend.

“I want to get a few thousand signatures and meet the Wetherspoons chairman to put across the public’s feelings on this.

“I’ve been amazed by the response in the community, but I’m worried work has stopped and the disrepair will get worse.

“A pub from the firm would work so well and would be very popular.

“I think it would work so well as it has the quirky edge and these buildings lend themselves well to being used as pubs.

“There is one nearby called The Elms and it’s one of the busiest in the area.”

Mr Smith said he’s optimistic there will be enough interest to get thousands of signatures in support.

He said he’s notices scaffolding has come down and raised concerns about it.

The petition reads: “It’s part of the very fabric of Leigh and the community holds many great memories of this amazing building in its heyday.

“Partially listed and really striking, it towers over its neighbouring buildings.

“Wetherspoons have a number of great and interesting buildings within its chain and hopefully the weight of support will encourage them to look at saving this iconic part of Leigh.”

Mr Norcoss said: “What a load of nonsense, I’ve spend £5million on this project.

“I think people are off their heads when they say things like this.

“It does appear to be open to the elements as we are replacing the scaffolding.

“This is private land and development and it is my building.

“How can Wetherspoons open a pub there.

“Work has not stopped and it’s all full steam ahead.”

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “It is always rewarding to hear residents want us to open a Wetherspoon pub in their area.

“We are not looking to open in Leigh, but will certainly take note of the petition.”

Residents commenting on the post are calling for a big venue for the site.

One posted: “The Grand needs to be restored back to being grand.”

There are at least 389 signatures for the cause online.

To sign the petition see tinyurl.com/ucvgon6