Council bosses admit they are 'disappointed' plans to rejuvenate a town centre eyesore have been shelved.

A planning application to completely redevelop Rickstones Neighbourhood Centre, located between Dorothy Sayers Drive and Laburnum Way in Witham, has been withdrawn for an unknown reason by applicants Mr and Mrs Smith.

The scheme would have seen 25 flats built on above the existing retail units at the site, which were also inline for a facelift.

However, the plans have been pulled a year after they were first submitted and the "dilapidated" buildings will likely remain untouched for the foreseeable future.

Witham Town Council had given its support to the plans to improve the site and the authority admits it is frustrated to see the chance to improve the area pass by.

A spokesman said: "The withdrawal of this application will come as a disappointment to members who approved a motion of support for the proposed development in recognition that this area would benefit from a new lease of life.

"Whilst the council has not been informed as of yet for the reasoning behind the withdrawal of the proposal, it is hoped that a revised application will be submitted in due course that resolves member’s original concerns of parking provision, adequate lighting and similar objections raised by local residents."

Despite the town council's support for the plans, 10 letters objecting to the proposals were sent in to Braintree Council's planning department during the public consultation period.

Only four of the eight retail units already on the site are occupied, with two of the buildings used as takeaway restaurants.

In the original application, consultants JLL Planning and Development Services argued the regeneration was needed due as the unsightly nature of the existing buildings was preventing businesses from filling the empty units.

In a statement, the firm added: "The overall quality of the public space is poor and the interconnecting areas of hard standing are unkempt.

"Rickstones Neighbourhood Centre has been neglected for some time which has contributed to its decline over the years."