COUNCIL bosses have expressed their pride at the amount of investment Basildon is now receiving...but major concerns have been raised over the number of tower blocks coming to the town.

The mayor of Basildon, David Burton-Sampson, paid testament to the council’s work in securing half a billion pounds worth of investment, but residents and opposition councillors fear 492 flats is not what the town needs.

The leader of Basildon’s Tories, Andrew Baggott, fears Basildon is becoming overrun with tower blocks with plans for a 17-storey building on Market Square, and discussions underway for a 28-storey building on the former Marks and Spencer site on Town Square.

Mr Burton-Sampson said: “This plan is for the next ten to 15 years to make Basildon fit for purpose.

“We’re looking to the future of the town centre and it’s really exciting to be a part of.

“We have to be realistic. The high street is changing and we have to be up to speed with it.

“We want to encourage businesses to stay in Basildon, but the Market Square is derelict.

“The council has been working so hard to secure proper investments.”

Councillor Baggott added: “It’s quickly becoming a ghetto.

“We’re trying to make Basildon like a London borough, which it isn’t.

“If it goes that way, we’ll get more residents here who are from London.

“We do need homes, but this isn’t the way forward. How much will this development actually improve the housing crisis?”

The changes at Market Square are already beginning, with St Lukes Hospice announcing the closure of its shop on the square.

The hospice, who care for those with life-limiting illnesses across Basildon and Thurrock, cited the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for closure, as well as the planned demolition.

Dave Emery, head of retail at the hospice, said: “It’s very sad that we have to close down this shop. The Market Square parade is due for demolition as part of Basildon Council’s town centre regeneration plans. 

“The shop would have been closed towards the end of this year regardless, therefore we have closed it slightly earlier than anticipated.

"Added factors have been the Covid-19 reopening measures, equating to a drop in sales, but also, at the same time, we have been able to keep a valued colleague employed.

“We would also like to say a huge thank you to our volunteers of this shop throughout the years. Hopefully, when the redevelopment is finished and we have a secured a new unit, we would love to welcome the team back.

“We’re so grateful for the support we have received over the years and we will miss our regular customers dearly.”