A HERITAGE centre in a Grade II listed building must have its leaking roof repaired just eight years after it was underwent a £200,000 refurbishment.

The Carriage and Wagon shed in the former Shoebury Garrison opened as a long-awaited heritage centre and cafe last year, following the refurbishment and drawn-out negotiations with Southend Council.

An application to cover the roof with a waterproof membrane has been approved by the council but it is unclear whether the centre will have to close while repair work is carried out.

If it does, it will come as a disappointment to all the volunteers involved in getting the centre up and running and making it a success.

Peter Lovett, chairman of Shoebury Residents Association, said: “We’ve been deeply involved with the heritage centre. If the roof is leaking the people that refurbished it, under the council regulations, should pay to fix it through some sort of retention fund “I don’t understand why we should be spending money on a defect.

“If I installed a heating system and it didn’t work or had a fault, I’d repair it free of charge. The centre is so important to us because it’s started to weld this community, with coffee mornings and other things we’ve got in mind.

“We’ve got a transport system starting on May 8 coming from Shoebury to the Garons wellbeing centre. It’s all part of our plan to get the community joining together.

“The cafe is fantastic. It’s packed out every day.”

The building, near to the junction of Magazine Road and Warrior Square Road, dates from the 1860s and was the original vehicle shed and workshop for the historic garrison.

Council officers ruled out alternatives to the waterproof and flexible membrane, such as replacing the roof of the iron frame structure, a coating of bituminous paint, or cladding.

A report by officers said: “The works are stated to be guaranteed for 30 years so should not deteriorate within this timeframe and will safeguard and secure the future of this building.

“It is therefore considered that the proposal will enhance the character of the listed building and the wider conservation area.

“The proposal is therefore acceptable and policy compliant in regard to design and heritage matters in all relevant regards."