THE owners of an upmarket restaurant in Leigh Broadway want to create a nine-bed hotel next door.

Louise Waite-Sterry, who runs the Sand Bar, wants permission to create a “family boutique” hotel above the Nationwide building society.

Provisionally called the Sandhouse Hotel, it would be on the first and second floors of the three-storey building, at the junction with Alexandra Road.

A planning statement by Steven Kearney, of SK Architects on behalf of Ms Waite-Sterry, said the development would create extra jobs, including a manager, housekeepers and catering staff. He also states how it would contribute to the town’s economic growth.

He said: “Overall, the proposed change of use represents a visual improvement of the existing building and the provision of a much-needed and high-quality nine-bedroom hotel.

“The proposed Sandhouse Hotel will without question add to the already highly-successful Sand Bar and provide an additional economy and visitor attraction to Leigh.”

Mr Kearney goes on to say the hotel would be closely linked to the current restaurant, which would be the hotel’s “social hub” and the base for its meals.

External changes to the property would be “extremely limited”, with plans for two new dormer spaces in the roof, while each room would have en-suite facilities.

The main entrance to the hotel would be via the Sand Bar, with a second one in Alexandra Road.

The Sand Bar and Seafood Company has already taken over the lease of the upper floors of the pre-war mock-Tudor building, previously used by Nationwide.

Mr Kearney said the offices became vacant in 2008 and no takers have been found.

If approved and built, the Sandhouse would become Leigh’s only hotel, with the nearby Grand Hotel and the Bell, in Leigh Hill, both derelict.

Pat Holden, chairman of Leigh Town Council, said: “I haven’t looked at the plans in detail, but I hear the appearance of the building won’t change that much, which is good.

“We could certainly do with hotel rooms in Leigh. At the council, we often get people asking us if there is anywhere to stay. So in principle, it sounds a good idea. Parking is a bit of an issue, as it is in the whole of Leigh.”

She said the town council would look at the plans next Tuesday. Southend Council hopes to make a decision by May 4.