Councils polar opposites on housing issue

It’s a tale of two towns in south Essex as Southend Council and Basildon Council take polar opposite approaches to building thousands of homes.

Southend Council has announced this week it could consider building 27-storey skyscrapers in the town centre to avoid building homes on Southend’s beloved green spaces.

While in Basildon, the new Conservative administration is considering back tracking on previous plans to build 5,000 homes in the town centre

While not ruling out building some homes in the town centre, opposition councillors in Basildon believe it will mean “every park and field” in town will now be at risk if the plan does not go ahead.

In Southend, Councillor Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council has voiced strong opposition to building on green belt land and has instead suggested car parks in Alexandra Street, Clarence Road and Warrior Square and land at the current bus station could be used to build huge tower blocks of homes.

He hoped the council would be able to create a “mini Manhattan” in the town centre, bringing an influx of people to boost footfall and open up further opportunities.

He previously stated: “If we get people living in the town centre that creates culture and brings in businesses.

“People living there will bring in their friends and that will attract other people.

“That’s how you build a cultural element and independent shops in the town centre.”

While in Basidlon, a consultation has been launched to identify where residents would prefer homes to be built.

Under previous plans the Eastgate Shopping Centre would have been overhauled to include homes

Almost 500 homes would have been built between Market Square and Town Square in the town centre.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter