BASILDON could be transformed into the BBC Media City of South Essex as part of a new multi-million project which a business and tourism boss believes will put the town "on the map".

The hunt is on for an operator to take on an exciting £15 million deal which could see a “state-of-the-art” media hub built in the town centre which will attract key players from the film, tech and gaming industries.

Bosses at Basildon Town Council hope the project will also elevate the screen and digital offerings it already provides and assist creative industry start-ups to help them grow.

Work costing £8.2 million to transform Robin’s cinema, the former British Heart Foundation shop and the American Diner at the Greak Oaks site into spaces to facilitate the contract, meanwhile, is already soon set to begin.

Craig Rimmer, cabinet member for economic stimulus and tourism, believes the deal will transform Basildon into a “media town”, where new ventures can expand and prosper away from London’s higher prices.

He said: “This contract would make Basildon into a creative tech town, with more people residing in the town centre, plans for the cinema, the Towngate theatre and the college will all feed into the town.

“I believe it will be possible for the BBC and companies in media production to take advantage of the exciting space we are setting aside here - we will become a creative corridor for Essex.

"Basildon has many empty properties, which are there to be let. Those spaces are cheaper here, and we want to let a lot of high-energy dynamic start-ups into Basildon."

The plans are not only focused on traditional TV media, however.

The contract also looks to support gaming companies, sound designers, VFX, animators, broadcasters, streamers and other digital specialisms.

“Virtual reality and augmented reality are the essence of this contract," Mr Rimmer said.

"Billboards are unsightly, for instance, but with augmented reality, you use your phone to see a virtual version of the advertisement come up around the town.

"We are trying to capture the energy of other towns and cities which had tech booms, such as Berlin, which benefitted off a lot of students and younger people working there, this is how we will put Basildon on the map.”

Companies have until March 22 to apply for the contract.