An “eyesore” Leigh pub must be transformed into a hotel, residents have insisted, after a developer's proposals were thrown out by Southend Council.

The Ship Hotel, on New Road, is in a key location at the entrance to Old Leigh but has been closed since 2017.

As part of its transformation plans, the East Anglia Pub Company sought to install balconies. However, a council officer refused over fears they would “result in the loss of original historic features”.

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.”

Jackie Thomas, 70, of New Road, Leigh told the Echo she would like to see the transformation go ahead.

She said: “A boutique restaurant or hotel would be great for around here. It’s better than to just have it sitting there, going to wrack and ruin.

“I think it should go before a planning committee, not just let one person make the decision.”


Kerstin Barnes, 55, of New Road, says the building is “falling into disrepair”.

She told the Echo: “It’s an eyesore.

“But the issue is there’s no parking here. At the moment, seven or eight cars can squish onto the Ship’s forecourt, but those spaces would be used by guests.”

Ms Barnes feels Southend Council has been “incredibly unhelpful and unsupportive” to the developers.

She said: “After COVID, anyone willing to invest should be applauded. It’s typical of the council, putting a stop to things but coming up with no alternative.

“The alternative is to let the building fall apart, when somebody is willing to spend money to improve it.

“This is a conservation area, so the development would have to be done sympathetically. But to stop it for something as simple as balconies – how ridiculous.

Claire Hill, 50, from Westcliff, agrees with the council’s decision.

She said: “The building definitely needs to be done-up, but the aesthetic quality needs to be kept. It’s a beautiful old building.”

A council spokesperson said: “As the applicant can still appeal the decision or submit a new application, it would not be appropriate for the council to comment.”