A DEVELOPER claims investors are being put off Basildon town centre because of the masterplan.

Ron Hopkins, director of Foxstone Estates, has been trying to build on a piece of land in Southernhay since 2006, after snapping it up for just £79,000.

However, his plans to build 24 flats with a parade of ground-floor shops and subsequent plans for 18 flats and three temporary shops have all been dismissed by council bosses who claim they are "contrary" to the town centre masterplan.

Mr Hopkins fears Basildon Council’s stance on the issue is putting off potential investors in the town and has left him with a piece of land he cannot develop or sell.

He said: "It seems like our sight is blighted by the masterplan proposals which affects the whole town centre and anyone else who is considering doing anything.

“There is no definite time frame in place so everything is in limbo.

"The aspirations for the town are very grand, but totally unrealistic. The uncertainty of this is actually having a harmful negative effect as any potential private investors or retailers will be put off and not be prepared to invest money where there is a question mark hanging over."

The ambitious £1billion masterplan, which Basildon Council claim will turn around the fortunes of the town, will include restaurants, bars and cafes, a cinema and new market.

It is hoped the transformation to create a booming night time economy will be complete by 2017.

Malcolm Buckley, Basildon councillor responsible for regeneration, said: "The piece of land was sold at auction with no planning consent but I understand it went for a low price which doesn't really reflect a redevelopment opportunity.

"As part of an area in the masterplan nothing is going to be given planning consent in case the site is needed. It may even remain green space indefinitely.

"We are some way away from the regeneration so the developer is going to have to hold on to it for the meantime.

“Realistically there will be no development at that site for some years and it may even never be built on."