Revised plans to turn a boarded up Old Leigh pub into a 15-bedroom hotel have been rejected by Southend Council.

The Ship, in New Road, closed in 2017 due to “unforeseen circumstances”, and the East Anglia Pub Company was originally granted permission in November 2019 to transform it into a 15-bedroom hotel.

Permission has since expired, so revised plans were submitted in September. However, Southend Council refused permission over fears the development would do “irreversible harm” to the former pub.

Carole Mulroney, Liberal Democrat councillor for Leigh, urged the developer to reconsider its plans and try again.

She said: “I want to see it come back into use. It’s been empty for several years.

“Leigh does need more hotel accommodation. But you’ve got to remember, it’s a historic building.

The latest proposals included a two-storey side extension and a second-floor rear extension. The company sought to install railings on terrace areas and balconies on three sides of the 19th century building, along with an external fire escape staircase at the rear.

Seven parking spaces and a taxi drop-off point were planned for outside the front of the building.

In October, workers were spotted entering the building and there were hopes renovations had begun.

Paul Barthaud, director of East Anglia Pub Company, said: “We’re finalising plans to commence works early 2024, aiming to be open summer season 2024.

“It’ll boast 15 bedrooms with six family rooms, two second floor suites, a restaurant, vaulted ceilings and most rooms will have outside space or balconies.”

However, the decision was delegated to a planning officer, who refused the plans as the first-floor balconies “would result in the loss of original historic features, detrimentally impacting other historic detailing and would be an awkward and incongruous addition to the building”.

Ms Mulroney added: “I would urge the developer to look at what the council has said, modify the plans and apply for permission again.

“When the council gives such a specific reason, it’s always something they need to look at and can modify.

“Leigh is an incredibly popular place. It would bring back a much-loved old building in the heart of the area. We want thriving businesses.

“I would welcome the development itself, but they have got to get it right. I’m sure it’s something that can be overcome.”