THERE’S no denying it, Basildon is getting bigger.
As the demand for housing continues to grow, and the next generation is itching to finally get on the housing ladder as the economy turns, it’s clear the UK needs more homes.
The borough of Basildon is no exception.
Whether it be due to the ageing population, more commuters choosing a cheaper option to London, or the burgeoning industrial sector attracting more workers, there is a clear housing shortage.
For years the towns of Basildon and Laindon have felt the brunt of development.
Now as Basildon Council’s local plan outlines a vision for 12,500 houses, spread evenly across the borough – the majority on green belt – rural communities and small towns are now also under threat.
Terry Latchford, of Ballards Walk, Lee Chapel North, says it’s about time the pain was shared.
After living behind a park for 45 years, he will now lose it to 135 homes after Basildon Council agreed a £7.5million sale of the land.
The cash will help the authority pay for the £38million Basildon Sporting Village.
Mr Latchford, 74, said: “If we have to put up with this, why shouldn’t Billericay residents?
“They will build on anything in Basildon – look what they have done at Gloucester Park.
“They are building on half of that, but you wouldn’t get them building in Lake Meadows in Billericay. Everyone in Basildon thinks there’s a north-south divide.
“Billericay residents say they don’t want to become another Basildon, so why do they use our facilities?
“It’s good enough for them when they want to use our swimming pool. They are Basildon when it suits them.”
He added: “They are turning this area into a concrete jungle of Basildon. I have lived here since 1968 and they are gradually chipping away at it.
“They have built in Markhams Chase as well and everything is getting congested.
“Our road is not safe and there’s no infrastructure. If you get 135 four-bedroom houses, that’s another 200 cars coming out at one turning on to Ballards Walk.
“Let alone the fact children can’t play anywhere any more.”
Meanwhile, in Billericay, hundreds of angry residents stormed council meetings in a fight against turning their greenbelt into housing estates.
They also don’t want their town to be swallowed up by more housing. Mike Andrews, of Outwood Farm Road, Billericay, said: “Billericay is characterised by being a historic place which sits in green surroundings and has several Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
“To simply dump huge housing estates on it – you have to ask if that is appropriate. It will have an effect on these characteristics and also others.
“High Street is a traffic bottleneck already and somewhere like fields near Outwood Common Road, where they want to build 430 houses, has narrow roads and no footpaths connecting the area to shops.
“We share the concerns of anyone having their environment radically changed.
“Residents against this aren’t just saying we don’t want it here – put it somewhere else.
“We are not against housing, but it should be intelligently programmed growth in areas where growth makes sense.”