Basildon shopping centre redevelopment allowed on appeal

A plan for a Basildon shopping centre to be redeveloped into 2,000 homes has been approved on appeal.

Basildon Borough Council lost its battle to stop plans to turn the Eastgate Centre into a mixed-used development including 2,800 flats across several tower blocks, the largest of which would be 21 storeys tall.

Developers InfraRed went to appeal on the grounds of non-determination last year after the plans were originally approved by the previous Labour-Independent administration but were later stalled by the incumbent Conservatives.

Councillors object to the height, scale, massing and layout of the development, with one saying at an earlier planning meeting it could create a “town within a town”.

This is the third major development in the town centre to have been allowed on appeal over the last year, after inspectors granted plans for 495 homes in Town Square in April and 429 homes in Market Square in December 2021.

According to the inspector’s report, the scheme would be transformative for Basildon town centre.

A section read: “the proposal would result in a well-designed place, with particular reference to the height, scale, massing, and layout of the proposal, in the context of the existing buildings and townscape of Basildon Town Centre.”

A later section read: “Whilst the scheme would to an extent create a new identity because the existing site has limited positive qualities, it would still be capable of drawing on local distinctiveness by reflecting the best bits of New Town architecture beyond the site.”

After the appeal was submitted, the council voted to say it would have refused the application over its height, scale, massing, and layout, and its effect on heritage assets such as Brooke House.

It re-committed to this position in June, after the council withdrew its local plan, a blueprint for over 20,000 homes across the whole borough.

The flats themselves will be a mix of built-to-rent, open market sale, student accommodation, later living and co-living, according to the application. Additionally, the development will consist of new shops and commercial space.

Outline permission has been granted, so reserved matters are still yet to be approved. Costs have not been awarded against the council, despite an application by the developer.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter