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Fisherman’s Co-op

The former Co-op building was more than 100 years old.

A FORMER fishmonger’s in Old Leigh is set to be rebuilt after it was confirmed that work will commence on it later this year. The Fisherman’s Co-Op, in Old Leigh High Street, was gutted by fire in 2019.

Six years after its destruction through arson, the burnt-out building site has remained an eyesore ever since. Southend Council has now confirmed work will start ‘later this year’, but did not provide any further details.

Paul Collins, councillor responsible for asset management and inward investment, said: “Having appointed a design team for the build phase of the project, we are now just waiting on an outstanding statutory approval for a minor amendment to received consents. We will then select a contractor to commence building work later this year.

“This project has added complications being located in a conversation area with unusual design challenges especially during what has been a challenging period with the coronavirus pandemic and tough economic conditions.

“Having said all that, I am optimistic that we’ll be able to return to site shortly and commence building work on what will once again be a huge asset to Old Leigh when it re-opens.”

Leigh town councillor and former fisherman Paul Gilson expressed a desire for the site to become a restaurant selling locally-caught seafood. He said: “It could be a fish restaurant and it would be excellent.

“It could offer the catch of the day off the boats – we don’t have anything like that here. “There is certainly an opportunity there for someone with some imagination and entrepreneurship. “

It could help lift the area and offer something a bit different. “I think its very good news the council is progressing with the project.

“That building had great historical value and I think there’s room for someone to take it over and at least offer what was there before.”

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