GIANT tower blocks would breathe life into “a dead part of Basildon town centre”, the architect for the scheme has argued.

A planning inquiry is being held into Basildon Estates’ plans for 495 flats across two 23-storey blocks in Town Square, rejected by the council in October of last year.

Architect Tim Makower told the inquiry the plans would arrest the slide of decline in Basildon.

“The decline in Basildon has not just been in retail. The decline in residential quality, in community life, has been an ongoing process,” he said, referencing Christopher Smith’s 2017 film on Basildon, New Town Utopia.

Aged 14, Mr Makower worked as the tea boy for Sir Frederick Gibberd, the master planner of Harlow new town.

He said: “You can imagine my excitement when I was asked to get involved in bringing back a significant part of Basildon town centre to life. It’s not 100 per cent dead now, but it’s fairly dead compared to what it used to be."

Quoting Sir Gibberd, he added: “A town is an organism which would go on changing and being rebuilt as the needs of the people alter.”

The council is basing its opposition on the impact the new blocks would have on the visual and cultural significance of Brooke House,the iconic 13-storey town centre block built in the early 1960s.

Last month, at a separate inquiry planning inspector David Rose ordered the council permit the building of 492 flats in in Market Square

Thomas Hill QC, speaking on behalf of Basildon Estates, told the hearing: “With planning permission now granted for a 17-storey tower as part of the Orwell scheme, Brooke House will no longer be the sole building of that height in Basildon town centre.

“Although Brooke House plainly has other unique qualities, one of them won’t be that it is the tallest building in Basildon.”

Mr Makower added: “Brooke House is architecturally fantastic. We think of it as a loving grandparent, not in our view, wanting nothing better ever to happen in the lives of its children but wanting to become part of a wider and growing extended family.”

The inquiry continues.