Plans to convert Leigh’s Grand Hotel into 18 homes, a basement spa, restaurants and bars could be completed within 18 months, the lead developer has confirmed.

It comes after owner Mick Norcross dismissed calls for the historic building to be converted into a Wetherspoon pub.

Basildon Standard:

History - Echo archives revealed an old picture of a wedding at the Grand Hotel

A spokesman for project developer, 460 Leisure Limited, said: “The building works will be complete within circa 18 months.

“We have the desire to ensure the completion of this development is nothing short of exceptional.

“The head development company is currently developing more than £100million of property at this moment in time. The funds required to complete the Grand are readily available.

“The petition asking for the Grand to be purchased and used as a Wetherspoon are ridiculous.

“The building is privately owned and not for sale, until completion of the development, when the 18 luxury residential apartments will be offered to the open market for sale on 250 year leases.

“Whilst we appreciate some concerns of the residents, we can assure them we are entirely committed to completing this fantastic landmark development.”

Readers have been having their say on the plans.

Commenting on the Echo Facebook page, Chris Palmer said: “Turn it into both a pub, and flats. Problem solved.

“Important question, will the flats be affordable, or is that a stupid question.”

Mary Lou posted: “Only good thing is it’ll no longer be neglected and empty.

“It would have been so much better to have been restored and been a hotel or spa or restaurants or something we could all use.”

Rob Lynch wrote: “I think the majority of people will be happy to see the building being sympathetically developed and serve a useful purpose.

“People suggested Wetherspoons as they have a good, realistic and proven track record.”