PLANS to turn an office block into 17 bedsits could lead to an influx of antisocial behaviour, claim councillors.

London-based Espincrest has drawn up plans to convert Gibraltar House, in Wickford High Street, into a house of multiple occupation.

The first and second floor open plan offices, which are currently empty, would be split into six single bedsits and eleven double units.

Michael Mowe, Tory councillor for Wickford North, slammed the proposals.

He said: “I don’t think it is good for the High Street. We need employment areas, we can’t just have housing. Offices and shops are important because they provide jobs.

“I know we need flats and this kind of accommodation to help young people, but we could easily end up saturated with them.

“I don’t think the High Street is the right location and without being judgmental we have got to think about antisocial behaviour.”

David Harrison, Ukip councillor for Wickford Park, said the scheme could benefit Wickford, but admitted he was eager to see more detail.

He added: “I don’t think it matters too much. I understand the offices have been empty for a while and they are having trouble letting them.

“My main concern would be parking, but I personally wouldn’t be too upset if the plans got approved. I think there is a place for accommodation like this in the High Street.

“What we really need to be worrying about is getting a variety of retail aspects, as well as nail bars and food outlets.”

Shops on the ground floor of Gibraltar House – including Ladbrokes bookies and Rona estate agents – will remain open.

The building has 21 parking spaces, and 14 of those would be reserved for residents.

Wickford is undergoing a £3.2million regeneration, including getting a new market, revamped High Street and stateof- the-art health centre.

Basildon Council is set to decide on the bedsit plans by the end of October.