Over 100 businesses and investors recently attended the launch of Basildon Council’s exciting regeneration and investment plans where it was announced that more than 15,000 homes, new employment opportunities and major town centre regeneration are all planned to sustain the continued growth of the area.
Bala Mahendran, chief executive of Basildon Council, comments: “Basildon is the second largest economy in the Thames Gateway, after Canary Wharf, and is the major contributor to economic growth in Essex. New business start-ups are increasing at a faster rate than anywhere else in Essex and we have a nationally class-leading skills base in advanced engineering and manufacturing, IT and the creative sector, which has grown by 40% in the past six years. Along the way we have attracted some of the world’s biggest brands including Ford, New Holland Agriculture and Leonardo.
“But we know that we cannot rely on our past reputation. Our draft Local Plan will provide around 15,000 homes, with 3,600 of them being affordable, and create more than 100 hectares of employment growth land. We will deliver a brand new college in the town centre with courses tailored to meet local skills needs and a revitalized town centre with a brand new market square. We want to create a sustainable community which people will be proud to live and work in.”
Also speaking at the launch, cllr Phil Turner, leader of Basildon Council asserts: “We are passionate about our commitment to delivering regeneration and growth to Basildon. We are very different to the councils of old. It is much more than just delivering local services, we help to shape the future of the borough, through economic growth, regeneration, housing and skills provision.”
Cllr Turner was also keen to stress that the council’s commitment to business came from across the party political divide. “Basildon has been Conservative-led since 2002, but we do work in partnership with other parties,” Phil says, concluding: “Whether Basildon is blue or red or green, it doesn’t matter: we are all focused on generating growth. Whoever is in charge, Basildon Council is united in the long-term objective of creating opportunity and economic growth.
“Basildon is the fastest growing economy in Essex and our vision is to attract investment and create opportunities that will last for generations, making places for people to work and create homes for a growing prosperous population. We are not just open to business; we are all about business.”
High quality design crucial
Wayne Hemingway, of Hemingway Design was also a speaker at the event and talked about how crucial high quality design is in the business of place making and regeneration and how architecture can shape the borough. As a new town, Basildon is less than 60 years old and in this time it has succeeded in creating a buoyant economy in Essex, with a population of more than 180,000. More than 8,000 businesses have flourished here, supporting more than 90,000 jobs.
This ambition for further growth is highlighted with Basildon town centre being at the core of the Council’s 2012-2032 masterplan and is in line for major transformation. The plans being developed for East Square, aim to provide the town centre with new leisure and housing opportunities, as well as boasting the night-time economy. Eastgate Shopping Centre is also in line for an upgrade. The 70,000m2 site, which enjoys an annual footfall of 14 million, was acquired by InfraRed Capital Partners in 2014 for £88m and has a £15m development plan for the structure, which includes improvements to the bus station.
Big brands are already benefitting from investing in the area; Coffee giant Costa and multinational online retailer Amazon are already bringing significant investment to Basildon and delivering jobs for local people. This will be reinforced further when Costa opens a £38m state-of-the-art roastery in Christopher Martin Road in early 2017, which will shop coffee beans to more than 3,000 Costa cafes in 31 countries.
Christopher Rogers, managing director for Costa comments: “Basildon is set to become the centre of our UK business network. The project is an opportunity for us to drive investment into the Basildon area.”
Amazon will deliver employment opportunities at its warehouse logistics centre, also in Christopher Martin Way. As many as 20 drivers could be employed by eight companies delivering parcels between the warehouses and homes and businesses in Essex and Suffolk.
Private sector investment
A further sign of commitment in the area has been shown by national housebuilder, Redrow, who have proposals for more than 700 much-needed homes for the borough. This development has enabled more than £30mn worth of private sector investment, which will fund the new South East College campus in the town centre, at the heart of the masterplan, as well as improvements to the public realm. Ecological pastureland and public open space will also form part of the development and a new primary school will be a part of further phases.
Basildon recently topped the CBRE’s list of best value commuter towns in the South East. As one of Essex’s more southerly boroughs, it benefits from its fantastic location and great connectivity, with London only 35 minutes by train and less than 13 miles from the coast. It is also well placed for the ports at Harwich and Felixstowe as well as Stansted airport and the M25. There are also plentiful green spaces, great shopping and culture.