THE centrepiece for the regeneration of Hadleigh could soon be in public hands as the council is closing in on a deal for the Crown Pub.

Castle Point Council is believed to be in the final stages of negotiating the sale of the former High Street pub from current owner, MCC Developments, and it hopes to conclude the deal this month.

Securing the Crown will mean a swathe of land in the centre of the town, which also includes the library and the former fire station, will be in public hands.

The council-led Castle Point Regeneration Partnership last month released its blueprint for the overhaul of Hadleigh’s shopping centre. It could see a new town square and Brighton Lanes-style shops on the current site of the library.

A council spokesman said: “We are unable to make any comment regarding the Crown public house at this moment as the negotiations are still ongoing regarding the acquisition.”

Norman Smith, Castle Point councillor for economic regeneration, was excited by the likely purchase.

He said: “If everything goes ahead, it gives us a long-term opportunity to come up with a comprehensive scheme for the whole area between the fire station and the Crown.

“It gives us the chance to look at it strategically and allows a major project to take place without getting into difficulties with landowners.”

Punch Taverns closed the pub in 2009 and it sold the site to MCC Developments for £400,000.

Plans to turn it into a KFC were abandoned following a public outcry.

The council began negotiations to buy the Crown last spring.

Part of the cash for the pub, which is more than 200 years old, will come from a £175,000 grant from Essex County Council.

The regeneration partnership has hired consultants Urban Practitioners to create the town centre blueprint. Provisional plans released last month suggest keeping the Crown as a pub or restaurant.

However, Mr Smith said the proposals were not set in stone.

He added: “It depends on what people want.”