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Future of centre to be decided next month
THE options for the future of the long-awaited redevelopment of the Laindon Shopping Centre will be laid bare to councillors next month.
They are expected to include a proposal for Basildon Council to forcibly buy the dilapidated shopping centre in conjunction with a developer to finally kickstart the regeneration.
The move comes amidst growing frustration that no progress has yet been made to redevelop the site, despite the fact that it has been mooted since 1996.
Malcolm Buckley, Basildon Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said he is producing a report for February.
It will set out all the options for the future of the centre and members of the council’s cabinet will be able to vote on their preferred option.
Mr Buckley said the council will only compulsorily purchase the site from its current owner, Laindon Regeneration, if an alternative developer can be secured to pay for it. He would not be drawn on whether a firm has been lined up.
He said: “We are having some serious discussions on the future of the centre.
“If we go for a compulsory purchase order it would not be a case of the council buying it, that would not be feasible, instead the purchase would be in conjunction with a new developer.
“The discussions are ongoing with the centre’s owners at the present time, we are doing everything we can to move this forward.”
Mr Buckley said he understood the frustration of the centre’s traders who have been left in limbo for the last 16 years.
But, despite his reassurances, things are not happening quickly enough for residents, traders and Laindon councillors.
John Scarola, Labour councillor for Laindon Park, accused Basildon Council’s Tory administration of making “empty promises”.
He said: “The Tories have been in power for 10 years and are regenerating Pitsea and Basildon, but we in Laindon feel like we are being treated like second-class citizens.
“The Tories shouldn’t promise things and do nothing about it.
“The Laindon Shopping Centre is a disgrace, it looks like a bombsite and you wouldn’t send your worst enemy there, the residents and traders deserve better.”
Plans to rennovate the Laindon Shopping Centre have been on the cards since 1996.
Laindon Regeneration bought the site in 2007, and attempted to sell it to property firm Wrenbridge last year. But that deal was put on hold after Morrison’s supermarket - who were planning to build a 70,000 square foot store on the site as part of the deal - failed to sign the agreement.
Wrenbridge declined to comment.