A landmark Southend seafront site earmarked for a £100million development could be seized by the council due to a lack of progress, it has been revealed.
Marine Plaza was granted planning permission in 2015 but while buildings on the site have been demolished, not a brick has been laid by developers.
Now, council officers have been instructed to look into the compulsory purchase the site opposite the Kursaal.
Councillors recently branded the delays to the scheme, which includes 282 apartments, restaurants, cafes and bars overlooking the Golden Mile, a disgrace.
Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, said no further delays by the developer, the Inner London group, would be tolerated and the council will consider finding a new developer to push on with the plan.
The Inner London Group has insisted work will start this year, but the council is not convinced.
He said: “I have already spoken to officers about this and asked them to start preparing themselves for the preparation of a compulsory purchase order if the developer doesn’t start Marine Plaza by the end of the year as promised.
“We would have to apply to the Government to do this but if we are successful I would invite another developer in to fulfil the plans.
“Depending on what response we got it could be a partnership with the council but we probably wouldn’t go down that route with this one. I view this one as a private sector development that needs to be fulfilled.”
Cllr Woodley is also proposing to lobby the Government to recoup millions of pounds in lost council tax.
He said: “The average Band-D home costs £2,000 council tax a year. There are nearly 300 homes in this scheme so it you multiply the number of homes and over the seven years we have lost it is more than £4million.
“I have written to the Government saying we should be able to charge developers council tax if they fail to deliver.
“Across the country there are 1.1million homes waiting to be built. They talk about the homes we need to build but this is a Government sitting on its hands. They can’t be bothered to chase up their developer friends.”
Larry Fentiman from the Inner London Group, said: “We are gearing up to start this quarter. We will definitely start this year.”