THE FIRM that owns the ailing Laindon Centre has been given a deadline of two years to sort out the dilapidated complex – or Basildon Council will step in.
Developer Bride Hall, drafted in to redevelop the centre last Autumn, has until the end of 2016 to, at the very least, submit a planning application for the precinct, off High Road.
If not, the council will step in and draft a blueprint similar to the Basildon Masterplan for Laindon, to redevelop the whole town centre – and could use a compulsory purchase order to take over the building.
Traders said they have heard it all before and called on Basildon Council to step in now to solve a 10 year wrangle of the centre.
However, senior Tories on the authority have said they expect a planning application to come forward as soon as this summer and acting now could derail progress.
Basildon Council is working the idea into the local plan, which residents can currently have their say on, to be developed on at a later date.
Stephen Kaye, owner of Headquarters Hair Salon, has been at the Laindon Centre for about 30 years.
He said: “The council needs to act now because it owes it to the community of Laindon to give them a decent shopping centre.”
Basildon Council, which has been threatening to take over the centre for eight years, will start work on a local development framework if all else fails by 2017.
The planning document will set out how the town can be developed and how the authority can do it.
The Echo understands this will almost certainly include a completely revamped Laindon Centre, offering a mix of shops and homes, with the current complex torn down.
Malcolm Buckley, cabinet member for regeneration at the council, said: “I would hope, whether it was from the administrators, or part of a development plan, that it would completely change the character of the town centre.
“Quite clearly the centre does need work and it is no good to rebuild it as a slightly modern version of it. It would want it to be significantly different and a much better version of what we have now.”
John Dornan, Tory Laindon Park councillor, added: “A deadline of 2016 is the end of line for the developers. It gives residents and traders the assurance we will not tolerate a post-2016 deadline.”
Last May, the owners of the centre, Laindon Regeneration, went into administration, drafting in BDO who then chose Bride Hall.