BUILDING works for a major town centre development will start this summer after the council awarded a contract worth £25 million.

The development of a ten screen cinema and six new restaurants in Basildon’s East Square has taken a step forward as Basildon Council hand over building control to the Simons Group.

Council bosses believe the redevelopment, which also includes public realm improvements to the square, will make the area a beacon for leisure and evening entertainment, creating a thriving night-time economy.

The building phase will be complete by autumn 2020. From then, it will need to be fitted out which is expected to take about six months.

The development is expected to be open to the public in spring 2021.

Anthony Hedley, chairman of Basildon Council’s regeneration committee, said: “This is a significant milestone in what is an exciting project that will transform the town centre.

“East Square will be a vibrant development, which will bring more life into the town centre while boosting the local economy and providing new jobs for local people.

“We want East Square to become a destination of choice and provide a mixed use town centre.

“We are committed to creating a much-needed night-time economy.”

Tom Robinson, chief executive of the Simons Group, said: “We are delighted to be working with Basildon Borough Council on such an exciting project for the town, particularly during its 70th anniversary celebrations.

“The cinema will be a fantastic addition to Basildon and one which will bring much enjoyment to residents.

“We are looking forward to starting on site and hopefully becoming an integral part of the town and its community over the coming months.”

Enabling works are already underway after Thurrock firm, Squibb Group, was awarded the contract to prepare the site for development.

It includes securing the site for development and the demolition of Freedom House and East Walk up to NatWest bank.

The development project has been an on going issue since 2014.