Empty hall could be dining destination in Hadleigh

10:00pm Monday 16th September 2013

A RUN-DOWN community hall at a park in Hadleigh could be turned into a restaurant.

It is understood a well-known food chain has shown a “firm expression of interest” in transforming Hadleigh Hall and improving the John Burrows recreation ground.

The hall has been empty since 2011, after the previous owners went into administration.

Local groups and other national organisations have mooted ideas about taking on the hall, but the interest shown by the latest firm includes improving other aspects of the park and its buildings.

Castle Point Council’s Norman Smith, councillor responsible for economic development, said: “It’s early stages yet, but it’s encouraging to see interest has been shown in the site. It has been empty for several years now and part of the criteria for developing it is having benefits for the community.

“The money that could be put into the site would be used to provide other services, such as changing rooms and a toilet block. It would be a good way of bringing that site back to life in terms of that investment.

“We will have a criteria we are looking for, so it’s a case of whether we can meet in the middle and if a deal can be done.”

The interest in the building was made to the Castle Point Regeneration Partnership – the council’s development arm.

The name of the potential buyer has not been released, as negotiations are ongoing, but Mr Smith described it as an “eatery chain”.

A report will be presented to Castle Point Council’s cabinet next week where approval will be sought for the proposals to be explored further.

The report states: “A firm expression of interest shown by a leading food and beverage operator was considered by the Castle Point Regeneration Partnership to be the best and most attractive delivery device.

“This operator has expressed an intention to open a new food establishment on a 1.15-acre site in the area of the existing Hadleigh Hall and to also support the provision of new changing rooms and public toilets and make other improvements at John Burrows park.”

Colin Riley, Tory councillor for Victoria ward, said he was “disappointed”

it had taken two years to get to this point, but hoped something could be done to rejuvenate the site soon.

He said: “It’s a lovely building, but an old-fashioned building.

The sooner we can get something going, the better.

“Whatever the proposals are, we want to make sure the Hadleigh members are involved in the early stages.”

Mr Riley said he hoped temporary toilets and changing rooms would be installed at the recreation ground in the meantime.

The cabinet meeting will be held at the council offices, in Kiln Road, Thundersley, on Wednesday, from 7pm.

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