Basildon revamp: Views sought on £1bn plans

Artist's impression of proposed new look for Broadmayne and cinema in Basildon town centre
Image caption The designs include a multi-screen cinema, homes, hotel and college

Plans are to go on show of a £1bn revamp of an Essex town centre which would include a new market, college and more than 1,500 homes.

As part of Basildon Borough Council's plans for the next 20 years, an eight to 10-screen cinema would also be built along with a new hotel.

The designs were approved to go out for a six-week public consultation by the council's cabinet on Thursday.

It also approved a £1m plan to upgrade the Towngate Theatre.

The town redevelopment plans, by developers Barratt Wilson Bowden, have been focused on eight areas of the town centre, including East Square, Broadmayne, the Eastgate Centre, Town Square and St Martin's Square.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 new homes are also proposed, along with a 150-room hotel and a college for up to 2,000 students.

There would also be 40,000 sq metres (430,570 sq ft) of retail and leisure space and 25,000 sq metres (269,106 sq ft) of offices.

'Need for investment'

The existing market would also be relocated to St Martin's Square.

A new public square would be created at the town's railway station, along with a "transit mall" for buses and taxis.

Funding for the redevelopment will come from private investors.

The council has described the plans as "one of the biggest town centre redevelopments in the country".

Image caption A £1m refurbishment of the Towngate Theatre will also go ahead

Deputy leader of the Conservative-controlled authority, Stephen Horgan, said the plans would address the "over-provision of retail and under-provision of leisure, restaurants, cafes and bars".

The public consultation will begin in mid-February.

The council said the first phase of work could be completed by 2017.

The upgrades to the Towngate Theatre will include the refurbishment of its auditorium, foyer, dressing rooms and catering area.

Cabinet member for leisure and arts, Kevin Blake, said: "There is a need for investment into the infrastructure, much of which hasn't altered since the theatre was built in 1988.

"The approved business plan will address this, and will help us take the theatre to the next level."

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