WICKFORD’S library and community centre will be moved to a new state-of-the-art building as part of a £1.5million regeneration of the town.

Wickford Community Association, currently based in Market Road, could be relocating to a site in the Nevendon Road recreation ground. The existing centre will be transformed into shops and flats by London and Cambridge Properties.

Last year the firm completed a deal to buy the neighbouring Willows Shopping Centre.

London and Cambridge is also proposing to replace the library on the site - which would result in payment to Basildon Council for the land.

The authority has been in discussions with Wickford Community Association as it draws up plans for the new and improved base, which will be next to a smaller council-run centre.

The proposals have been met with opposition. Residents fear moving the library and community centre out of the town centre will make it difficult for them to access it.

Eunice Brockman, of Mount Road, described the regeneration plans as “a vote winning stunt.”

Mrs Brockman, who stood for election as a borough councillor for Wickford Independents, said: “It is a prime site in the centre of town, to move it away from there makes no sense.

“How are people who can’t drive supposed to reach it. We have been here before, where plans have been put on the table, whether they come forward, that’s another thing.”

Phil Turner, leader of Basildon Council, previously told the Echo he would not rule out building in Nevendon Park.

The council has contributed up to £300,000 to the scene. Other investment will bring the regeneration close to the £1.5million mark.

He said: “This is a bit of a financial jigsaw puzzle – a bit from here, some more from there and so on – and we could potentially have been chipping away at it for a long time.

“But it is really important that we secure private investment in Wickford with more commercial facilities and housing for people in the town centre and we get improved facilities for the community.

“So we have bitten the bullet and made funds available to get the project over the line.

“Officers can now work up proposals that are acceptable to the community association and bring them forward for planning approval. With this decision we can expect to see a new community centre in Nevendon Road recreation ground up and running by summer 2018.”