The launch of this campaign – Say NO to High Rise Hell in Basildon Town Centre – has certainly helped to put the ‘masterplan’ for Basildon town centre under the spotlight. Suffice to say that the leader of Basildon Council, Cllr. Gavin Callaghan (Lab) is already getting rattled by this. Rightly so in our opinion…
This question keeps coming to our minds – how can you have a ‘masterplan’ for the town centre without any consideration as to how the rest of Basildon plus the satellite towns of Laindon, Pitsea, Wickford and even Billericay fit into it? It’s not exactly holistic, joined up thinking is it? From reviving local centres through to improvements in public transport, cycle ways and pedestrian routes, there are a host of things that could be done to make life better for everyone right across Basildon.
Improvements that would respect the original vision for the new town while accommodating the need to reduce dependency on cars. The original vision being to provide a green, spacious environment for people moving out from London to live and thrive in. Okay, we know that vision never fully materialised but that’s no excuse to totally reject it.
We don’t think anyone is against the idea of regenerating the town centre. It is looking dated and more than a bit shabby in places. With the retail sector facing unprecedented challenges and changes, the concept of town centres just as places to shop is rightly being brought into question. A focus on leisure and culture for everyone across Basildon as part of the vision for a re-vamped town centre is important. It would give a new purpose to the town centre.
So what are we getting? When you look at the visuals for what the town centre could look like if this ‘masterplan’ is implemented, the first thought that comes to mind is that it looks like a citadel, ringed off from the rest of Basildon. A hellscape of high rise apartment towers. Apartments situated within easy walking distance of a railway station with frequent train services to whisk people in and out of London. A new community of commuters whose focus will be on their jobs in the capital and not on the town they live in. A high tech, high rise dormitory that will have little to do with the rest of Basildon.
This has sod all to do with improving the lives of people across Basildon. A ‘masterplan’ that focuses almost exclusively on the town centre with little consideration as to how it relates to the rest of Basildon has to be seen for what it is – the facilitation of the wet dreams of the property developers. Let’s hope enough people stand up to challenge this and force a major re-think before the hellscape is imposed.
This is where to go to access the draft plans and make your comments: Basildon town centre regeneration. Also, just to confuse things a bit, there’s a separate consultation by a developer, Orwell Real Estate, for a proposed development to the north of Market Square. Here’s where you can access it: Welcome to our consultation website on Orwell Real Estate’s emerging plans for a sustainable, high-quality development on the land north of Market Square, at the gateway to Basildon Town Centre. Enjoy:)