A HIGH-TECH centre to protect millions of people's bank account details is set to be created in Basildon.

Plans have been approved for the data recovery centre, which will be a back-up system for financial firms in case terrorists attack their headquarters in the capital.

It will be based in a huge distribution centre which is being built on the former York International site, in Gardiners Lane South. Astral Developments and Standard Life Investments, which own the site, hope to attract financial big-hitters from London to the back-up facility.

Chris Firth, of Michael Sparks Associates, agent for the application, said the system of storing personal information in different locations was more essential than ever.

He said: "Since 9/11, organisations have looked to keep back-up information at locations outside the capital.

"Should their main databases in London be destroyed in a terror attack, there would still be full access to all the information."

Tony Ball, deputy council leader, added: "I sincerely hope that the system never has to be used, because it would mean more terrorism, but it is encouraging that more and more big business are willing to invest in the district.

"It was sad when York moved out, but it is great a new development has so quickly taken its place."

The former York factory is being transformed into a £35million, 315,000 sq ft distribution centre, called Imperium 315, expected to be finished by the spring.

The back-up centre would be part of the development and manned 24-hours-a-day, with computer systems on mezzanine floors, and standby generators.

A report with the application said: "The data disaster recover centre provides real-time back up of computer records some miles from the institution's main location."

Astral Developments and Standard Life bought the site last year for £11m.