The rejuvenation of a town centre eyesore has been further delayed after the developer pulled its plans at the last minute.

Plans to redevelop Sutherland House in Brighton Road, which has been derelict except for a handful of shops on the ground floor for many years .

It was even home to one of the borough's largest cannabis factories.

The plans were due to be discussed and possibly given planning permission at a meeting tonight, but developer Criterion Capital withdrew the plans last week.

Sutherland House has been the subject of plans for redevelopment since 2008 but there have been hold ups along the way, notably Sutton Council refusing planning permission last year - a decision that was later backed by a Government inspector at an appeal.

The latest plans, which addressed previous concerns councillors had about affordable housing and the look of the scheme, were due to be discussed at Wednesday's development control committee and could have been given planning permission if members voted in favour.

Sutton South Councillor Richard Clifton had agreed to speak in favour of the plans at the meeting and said he was disappointed when they were withdrawn.

He added: "I supported these proposals for the re-development of Sutherland House. I call on the owners to make clear what their plans now are.

"With the uplift to the area that will come from the opening of the side entrance to Sutton station, the Sutton Gateway project and the prestige new Subsea7 headquarters, getting Sutherland House re-developed remains the final plank in the strategy to bring jobs, prosperity and good design to the area."

But Conservative Councillor Tony Shields thinks the development is still likely to go ahenad but will be done through 'permitted development', which allows devlopers to convert propertyies without the need for planning permission as long as they meet certain requirements. 

Coun Shields said: "The developer has clearly given up trying to get a planning approval accepted by Sutton Lib Dems and as such has told me he is going down the route of permitted development, granted strangely by Sutton Council outside of any committee in December to refurbish the property into flats.

"Now the developer need not pay anything to the council which for the various schemes he has been happy to do.

"Sutton lib Dems stubbornness has cost the local area some £600,000 in lost developer contributions to improve the wider area, a stupid stupid mistake borne out of political ideology being more important to them than financial reality.

"I would say it serves the Lib Dems right but once again the residents will be the ones losing out."

Criterion Capital, which had planned to provide shops and flats on the site, declined to comment.