3:00pm Monday 12th September 2011
A LANDMARK building could be transformed into a plush boutique hotel, restaurant and spa if a well-known nightclub boss gets his way.
The Only Way is Essex star Michael Norcross, 48, who owns the Sugar Hut bar, Brentwood, wants to buy the Grand Hotel, in Leigh Broadway, and turn it into a classy establishment.
The iconic Grand has stood at the heart of Leigh for more than a century, but has been boarded up since 2008 when its owners, the Orchid Group, went into administration.
Mr Norcross, whose son Kirk, 23, is also a regular on Towie, confirmed his ambitious plans exclusively to the Echo and stressed he wants to turn the distinctive brick-built building into a hotel, not a club or pub.
He said: “Yes we are looking at it.We have been looking into it for some time now, and we want to turn it into a boutique hotel, with a restaurant and spa area inside.
“Obviously it all depends on whether we get planning permission, but I am going to do everything in my power to get this building.
“I just think it is a beautiful building, in a fantastic location, in a high quality area.”
Mr Norcross said he was aware of problems in the area,with break-ins and drug taking at the site in the past, but promised these would be sorted out should he take over.
He said: “We know it has been broken into a few times since it closed, which is sad to see. As soon as we get any permission though, we will beef up security.
“If we do get our wish granted, then we will be here for the long haul. It’s in the very early stages with our legal team.”
Kirk Norcross is one of the hit ITV2 show’s most popular characters and the Sugar Hut is often used as the backdrop for scenes.
Derek Jarvis, Southend councillor responsible for culture and tourism, is fully behind the scheme. He said: “This sounds like excellent news. The building is in a prime location and is popular with the people of Leigh. Development of the Grand Hotel has been needed for a long time now.
“The Only Way is Essex might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if, on balance, the population likes it, which they appear to do, then there has to be a place for it.”
The Grand was built in 1896. During the 1980s it became famous for its live music acts. Laurel and Hardy are even reported to have stayed there during its early years.
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