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New homes and health centre for Wickford revealed
10:00am Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
PLANS to build a large health centre and new homes on Wickford’s marketplace have finally been revealed.
Dismayed traders have been handed a letter outlining Basildon Council’s plan to build a health centre on the site off Market Road – with businesses being asked to leave by August 2014.
The market is to be moved into the High Street as part of a transformation of Wickford’s main shopping area.
Angry traders at the market building have claimed they won’t be able to move.
The Echo understands Basildon Council will pay to build the new centre and then lease it to the NHS.
A source close to the council said the centre will cost a “substantial, seven-figure sum” and offer more health services than existing GP surgeries in the town.
A new health centre was first mooted in the doomed Wickford masterplan, in 2006.
While the market was always thought to be the Tory administration’s preferred site, this is the first time it has admitted so in writing.
The cabinet will meet behind closed doors on Thursday, December 12, to discuss the health centre and homes package.
NHS England has admitted it is negotiating with the authority.
Campaigners, traders, and councillors have criticised plans to cover the market with homes.
The Tory councillor responsible for regeneration, Malcolm Buckley, claims the housing will be a necessarily evil if the town is to have an improved health facility.
He said: “The issue is, to build a health centre on this scale will cost a substantial, seven-figure sum and we can only generate that from land sales.
“This site is the only asset we have in Wickford.
“The option is either a health centre and some houses, or no health centre at all.”
The Echo understands the GPs surgery, in London Road, will be relocated into the newhealth centre.
The lease on its current building is due for renewal in April.
Another GP’s surgery and health centre is located in Market Road, but it is unknown if it will be affected.
Nigel Le Gresley, Ukip councillor for Wickford Castledon, said: “I have been drip-fed information about this from sources other than the council and have been fobbed off by the authority so many times, that I think it is underhand and despicable.
“At every opportunity they get these people are trying to shove houses everywhere, without the infrastructure to cope.”
EXCLUSIVE pictures reveal what a revamped Wickford High Street will look like.
Leaked images, seen by the Echo, show Basildon Council’s £700,000 proposals, designed to inject life into the town’s main shopping area.
Until now, the council had only outlined what bosses wanted to do by next summer.
Designs obtained by the Echo show the plans include: Pedestrianising part of the High Street, moving the market to a newarea in the town centre and a new block of toilets.
Malcolm Buckley, Tory councillor responsible for regeneration, said: “The outcome will be a more pleasant area for customers and hopefully it will entice shoppers into the area.
“It will be less receptive to vehicles coming through and should make it more comfortable for shoppers.
“It’s going to be a big regeneration of the High Street and something that we’re very excited to bring forward.”
The authority unveiled its plans to traders at a closed meeting last week.
They include moving the market into the High Street, which will include a newly christened Market Lane.
This will put new stalls in the alleyway next to the 99p store and the public toilets, which runs between the present market and the High Street.
Anewly-paved area in the High Street will have space for further stalls on market days, as well as an area for tables and chairs for businesses. New decorations, lights, and plants are also planned for the High Street, as well as shop fronts being spruced up so they fit in with the new look.
A stretch of the road will be made one-way.
The designs, from Essex County Council’s consultancy team, cost about £50,000 to produce.
Work on the revamped High Street is expected to start in the newyear and be completed by early summer. The new toilets, next to Market Lane, will be completed by the end of December, costing £110,000 and replacing a building that is 60 years old.
Basildon Council is consulting with traders and residents on its Wickford plans.
Anyone who wants to give feedback can e-mail Mr Buckley on email@example.com don.gov.uk.
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