COVID-19 heroes could get priority for new homes in Basildon to thank them for their outstanding service during the pandemic.

Plans are now under way for 230 new homes to be built on the former car park 14 at Chapelgate, Basildon, in a partnership with the council and Sempra Homes.

Council bosses plan for half the homes to be for key workers and the other half to become council homes, subject to grants from Homes England or other handouts.

Consultations for the homes took place in December 2020 and February 2021, with an application for planning permission to be made “not too far away”.

Deputy leader of the council, Kerry Smith, insists additional housing for key workers is something that “needs doing” to make sure frontline staff stay in the borough.

He said: “It’s something we want to do. We have had a consultation for this and now we’re looking to get planning permission.

“I’m sure they will be getting snapped up by key workers.

“Some of our key workers, if they can’t get a place in Basildon, they may leave the borough and a lot of our nurses could go to these private companies. These homes will be just ten minutes from Basildon Hospital.

“By having lots of key worker homes, we can encourage the best staffing.”

At a council meeting last month, councillor David Kirkman welcomed the council’s commitment to “build homes for heroes” and to offer key worker housing to the boroughs NHS staff and other frontline workers.

He also branded the Government’s one per cent pay rise for NHS staff an “insult” - insisting it shows the Government “does not truly value the NHS and the sacrifices of NHS staff”.

Mr Smith said it was important to give back to dedicated NHS workers as he slammed the Government’s decision to give staff just a one per cent pay rise.

He added: “It’s OK the Government clapping. They might as well stick that where the sun doesn’t shine. They don’t want platitudes.

“Offering them a crummy one per cent pay rise - it’s disgusting.

“They feel like they have done something wrong.

“They feel they have been knifed in the back. They have put the hours in so it wouldn’t hurt giving back.”

Sempra plans to submit the planning application by the end of the spring.

If plans are approved, construction of the new homes could start as soon as the end of the year.