Brooke House (on pillars to the left) will be having a demolition and then a construction site as its neighbour for the next few years.

Work is now underway on the demolition of the buildings flanking East Square and East Walk in Basildon as part of the ongoing ‘re-development’ of Basildon town centre. This is in addition to the work on the re-located market in St. Martins Square which has still to be completed and the early stages of the construction of the town centre campus of South Essex College on what used to be the market. Basically, Basildon town centre is being turned into one sodding massive demolition and construction site! But, there’s even more to come…

Basildon Council’s new(ish) leader, Cllr. Gavin Callaghan (Lab) has even more grandiose visions for the future of the town centre: Plans to transform Basildon after ’20 years of failure’. If you think Basildon is already enough of a demolition/construction site, you ain’t seen nothing yet! We’ve already passed comment on Callaghans’s ‘vision’: The new boss in Basildon is (pretty much) the same as the previous ones… However, there are a few more observations we’d like to add…

We’ve written at length about the tendency of local authorities where, regardless of political control, a cabal of ruling group councillors working with senior council officers have developed a nasty habit of imposing ‘re-development’ schemes on their town centres with only a perfunctory effort at consultation with residents. Residents…you know, the people who pay their council tax and effectively, pay the allowances and salaries of these charlatans.

In an ideal world, any town centre re-generation should start with an open and honest conversation with residents as to what they think should be done to improve it. That conversation should be continued through the design and construction process so that everyone feels they have a genuine stake in the outcome and that their views will be respected. However, we live in a far from ideal world – the reality is that we live in one that’s dysfunctional and increasingly dystopian. This is why out of touch ruling group councillors and senior council officers seem to think they can get away with foisting their hubristic schemes on us mere plebs.

There’s a tendency for politicians to want to leave their mark, not for the good of the people they supposedly represent/rule over, but to enhance their reputations for posterity. When the politician in question is a local councillor, now a council leader who has undisguised ambitions to be an MP and maybe one day a minister of state, we think residents have the right to question the motives and rationale behind any grandiose ‘re-development’ schemes they come up with. Yes Cllr. Gavin Callaghan, we’re talking about you! By the way, there’s also the issue of his links with property developers to take into consideration: What a tangled web they weave.

Rather than go down in history as one of those politicians who wants to leave behind grandiose developments to enhance their reputations, we’d like to offer Callaghan some advice – talk to the residents of Basildon and all of the other users of the town centre and ask them what they really want to see for the future. If what they suggest does match his vision, then great, go for it! If not, then take a step back, rein it in and start from scratch in a new direction. Let’s face it, unwanted architectural legacies as a result of arrogance, over-inflated egos and hubris from politicians aren’t exactly a great look – you can do your own research into this:)