A “DATE of destiny” has been set to decide the future of Basildon town centre’s high rise tower block plans as lawyers and the government get ready to battle it out.

Proposals to build a huge 492 homes in a 17-storey building on Market Square had been accepted by councillors on two separate occasions earlier this year - before being swiftly rejected by the Conservatives.

The development, which would have replaced the Moon on the Square pub, Greggs and a Subway, is now the subject of an appeal from developers Orwell.

The appeal, which cost Basildon Council and taxpayers around £2million in legal fees and compensation, will now be heard at a formal public hearing on November 9.


The government inspector will go head-to-head against a barrister employed by the council.

Kerry Smith, former deputy leader, said: “I don’t think the council stands a chance.

“Councillors are briefed not to be this stupid and let it get to this point. You have to operate within the framework when you reject something like this “I would agree with them and say it’s too high, but the favour will always be with developers.”

The application came as part of Basildon’s Town Centre Masterplan, formalised under the previous Labour-led administration. It would have seen almost 5,000 homes built, alongside a a 5,000-seat arena, new sites for a larger theatre and smaller council offices.

Basildon Council insist the government won’t be taking control of its planning department if it loses the appeal.

It was feared that due to a number of recent rejected applications in the borough being overturned on appeal, the threshold for the number of overturned appeals could have been hit, forcing the government to step in.

A spokesman from Basildon Council said, “There is a National Key Performance Indicator in place to measure the quality of decisions made by the council.

“The council’s performance is measured over a two-year period.

“For the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2021 the council recorded zero per cent of major applications overturned at appeal.”