The planned campus for South Essex College in Basildon town centre that will be on the site of the existing market has shrunk to less than 40 percent of its original planned size. This will effectively leave Basildon as a satellite site for the college rather than a main campus such as Thurrock or Southend. See here for the full story in the Yellow Advertiser: EXCLUSIVE: Fears for Basildon town centre regeneration as files reveal planned college campus has shrunk by 60 per cent.

The ‘mini-campus’ that Basildon town centre will be graced with is part of a complex chain of developments which we’ll try to explain! The chain takes in the executive housing development at Dry Street, the sale of the existing campus of South Essex College at the top of Nethermayne to the housing developers, the ‘re-location’ of the college to where the market is and the relocation of the market to St. Martin’s Square.

All of these have long been a source of controversy. Controversy over an executive housing development at Dry Street which does nothing to reduce the waiting list for social housing in Basildon. An executive housing development which has already destroyed an important local site for wildlife. Controversy over £3million of our money being used by both Basildon and Essex County Councils to plug a ‘funding gap’ in the relocation of the market to St. Martin’s Square. Controversy over the destruction of what used to be an oasis of greenery and calm in St. Martin’s Square to make way for the market, the construction of which appears to be proceeding at a snail’s pace. Lastly but by no means least, controversy over the downsizing of what will be on offer to potential students in Basildon at the new ‘mini-campus’ in the town centre.

You seriously couldn’t make this up if you tried! This has been one long catalogue of hot air, bullshit and arrogance, all laced with a large dose of incompetence. Here we have a classic example of what’s wrong with not just with a top down, unaccountable planning system but the political, economic and social order that system serves. At every step of the way in this sorry development saga, the residents of Basildon have been denied a meaningful say in what will happen to their town. Is it any wonder that the vast majority of residents don’t bother to vote at local elections when regardless of where they put their cross, it makes no difference as their hopes and fears over the future direction of Basildon are routinely ignored?