AN ARTS centre could remain closed until it is fully redeveloped ... because the cost of keeping it open after the Covid pandemic is “unsustainable”.

The Mill Arts and Events centre in Rayleigh is set to keep its doors firmly shut until it is redevelopment is complete in 2023 – when it will become a community centre and homes.

The council has concerns over the costs of keeping the centre open in “the current climate”.

The site is run by Fusion Leisure, which was previously handed a £430,000 bailout from Rochford Council to keep sites open.

Council funds could be used to allow Clements Hall Leisure Centre, in Hawkwell, and Rayleigh Leisure Centre, to re-open following the second national lockdown, but The Freight House in Rochford would remain closed.

Chris Stanley, councillor of the Downhall and Rawreth ward, said: “It’s a real shame, it was very popular. What are people paying their taxes for? What a waste.

“It’s very disappointing. All our centres should have been helped, not just Fusion.

“It’s not like the new one will be built inside 12 weeks, it will be a lot longer than that.”

The council says prior to the pandemic, the site ran at significant losses.

The building forms part of the “Asset Delivery Programme” with the site set to be re-developed as a new community centre, with space retained for council and residential use.

Councillors will meet this week to vote on keeping the Mill Arts and Events centre closed as well as considering the contract with Fusion Leisure.

Mike Webb, councillor responsible for the community, said: “Despite the effects of the pandemic, we are fortunate in that the Mill Arts and Events centre is already due for redevelopment in the future, which will be completed by 2023.”