COLCHESTER Council looked into the prospect of compulsory purchasing the derelict former home of the town’s old Odeon cinema, a top councillor has said.

Communities, wellbeing and public safety boss Mike Lilley revealed the authority had explored the idea after becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of movement on the site.

The council has issued Blumarble with another Section 215 notice in relation to the Crouch Street premises, where plans for 57 apartments have stalled due to issues over financial viability.

Council bosses want to see further remedial works to the top section of the premises, which has become derelict after being empty for 18 years.

Stormy weather has blown some of the hoarding surrounding the premises to the ground - leading to fears of the area being unsafe.

Gazette: Stormy weather has damaged the buildingStormy weather has damaged the building

Mr Lilley (Lab, Old Heath and Hythe) said: “There is an issue because they are going to have to bring in scaffolding and there may be a road closure needed.

“As a council we looked to see if we could compulsory purchase it off the owner so we could do something with it because we are fed up of it.

“But the money involved is far too much for us to pay.”

The long-await £10 million redevelopment of the grade-II listed building hit the rocks in 2018 when Blumarble admitted its plans were no longer financially viable.

Since then, the owners of Coda, in High Street, came forward saying they’d like to turn it into a 2,000 capacity music venue.

However those proposals have not come to fruition and traders in the area are increasingly frustrated by the building’s sorry state.

Mr Lilley said: “Traders have a right to be annoyed. We keep forcing the developer to do the work but it doesn’t impact on the fact it is still there.

“It is falling down gradually but it needs a lot of money to renovate the premises.

“The front has to be kept but the back has to go as it is in such bad condition. The back has gone to wreck and ruin.

“It will cost a huge amount of money to sort out.

“Even if you are going to compulsory purchase it you need a plan as to what you are going to do with it.”

Bluemarble must comply with the latest Section 215 notice by April 23 or the firm could face prosecution by Colchester Council.

Mr Lilley said: “It is up to the owner to sort it out. The firm took it on, they must have known the issues.”

Matt Ellis, of Blumarble, told The Gazette there was “no update” on the firm’s plans at the moment.

He added works to tidy up the building would be completed in due course.