MAJOR changes have been proposed for Basildon town centre with 4,000 new homes predicted.

The former Post Office block could be replaced with flats as a changing focus in the town centre is debated.

Basildon Standard:

On Wednesday the new town centre revival committee will meet for the first time, and will approve the development of concept plans for the Post Office block, as well as discussing the development of a new town centre masterplan.

The Post Office building stands next to the site for the major East Square development, which will see a ten-screen cinema open by autumn 2021.

Putting plans in place for the office block has been branded a high priority due to its proximity to East Square. The council purchased the block in June.

And council documents revealed that the council will discuss a new masterplan for the town centre at the same time – which could see 4,000 homes built in the town centre.

The agenda also revealed that the train station is not up to scratch, and that the town centre is not inviting enough for residents or visitors.

Janice Carter, 64, of Laindon, said: “There is no doubt the town centre needs improving.

“The East Square project is pretty exciting, that part of the town centre is horrible and East Walk is so unappealing.

“I think improvements to the town centre, including new build homes are needed. Something needs to be done and it looks like the council is addressing that.”

It was highlighted that there is relatively little housing in the town centre, but this has been viewed as a “win-win” by the council, with the opportunity to deliver more homes, and increase spending in the heart of the town. The recent housing plan identified capacity for 2,100 homes in the town centre, but this could grow to as many as 4,000.

There are also concerned over “small and weak” use of offices in the town centre, and that vacant and out of date office buildings are negatively effecting visitor numbers and reinvestment in the centre.

There will also be a lot of attention on the train station, with the council admitting despite the prime location “access by foot is visually uninviting and involves crossing a traffic dominated area”.

Documents revealed that a large focus of the masterplan will be improving the retail sector in Basildon.

The town centre has seen a dramatic decline over the last 15 years, while the Eastgate Shopping Centre has seen visitors drop from 14 million in 2014 to 11.7 million in 2016.

Council leader Gavin Callaghan said:“I have been overwhelmed with the reaction from the private sector towards our town centre development plans.

“The interest in Basildon is huge. There is no doubt town centres are facing their biggest challenges but with bold, transformational interventions we can bring about long lasting, positive change.”