THE demolition of the Laindon shopping centre to make space for a major new development will begin today.

After 25 years of planning, six different failed attempts by a variety of developers, Swan Housing and partners are beginning the demolition of the dilapidated shopping centre to make place for “Laindon Place”.

The new plans will see a health centre, 86 houses, 138 flats and a shopping parade brought to the area.

MPs for south Essex are set to attend, including Rayleigh and Wickford MP Mark Francois, MP for Basildon and Billericay John Baron and Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, alongside a number of ward councillors and residents.

One resident is driving all the way back from her holiday in Great Yarmouth just to see the centre finally demolished, and told Swan she has “been let down for so many years by so many companies I just want to see it gone”.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place on the site in October last year, marking the start of the £50 million regeneration.

At that stage, the firms behind the plans stated that more than 60 enquires had already been made from businesses wanting to lease the new retail units.

A spokesman for Swan said: “The transformation of the centre is moving at pace and we’re delighted to be taking this huge step closer to creating a thriving new high street for the local community.”

An event celebrating the beginning of the demolition will take place from 11am to 1pm today, with residents invited to attend and watch the proceedings.