DEMOLITION work has begun on a neglected shopping centre to make way for a major new development.

Residents joined south Essex MPs, ward councillors and council representatives to watch the satisfying moment Laindon Shopping Centre crumbled to the ground.

Basildon Standard:

Guests - dozens of people watched on

The new £50m centre, which will be called Laindon Place, will include a a thriving new shopping parade, a health centre, and 224 modern homes. Swan’s Billericay based staff will also relocate their office to the site.

The centre has been ready for change throughout the last 25 years with six failed attempts to regenerate the site by a host of different developers.

Swan Housing took the reigns on the project and residents praised them for listening to the needs of the community and following though with their promises.

Carol Franklin, 73, has lived in the area for 37 years with husband, Ernie, 74.

She said: “We’ve seen a lot of changes and all the problems that have arisen over the years which was such a shame.

“When we moved here there was everything here - the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker, and then slowly it just all went downhill.

“I am over the moon that this is finally happening and it couldn’t be better in Swan’s hands.

“They do so much for their tenants - nobody can touch them.

“New people that have moved to the area have nowhere to go, for even a coffee or meal, and now this is going to happen - everybody is on board with it.”

The Basildon community have had plenty of input into the new plans which has been designed to benefit existing and new residents.

Stephen Metcalfe MP told the Echo: “It has been a long time coming, and for the last nine years since I was elected to represent south Basildon and Thurrock, the future of the Laindon Shopping Centre has been a running sore and I’m just delighted that finally the combination of passion from Swan, dedication and commitment from the council, and co-operation from the NHS, is allowing us to move this forward, and finally I can see a bright future for the area.

“The accommodation of businesses and housing presenting employment and living opportunities, but it also goes wider than that.

“Some of the construction methods are really innovative and will support business opportunities in the wider Basildon community, so all round I think this is a great opportunity.

“There is a tinge of nostalgia with losing the Laindon centre but what will come of it will be so much better.”

Swan launched temporary units earlier this year to ensure essential services are maintained throughout the regeneration. Work should be finished in 2022.