Andrew Baggott says planning inspector’s approval at odds with public’s hopes for town centre makeover 

A planning inspector has given her backing to plans for 495 new homes in Basildon town centre, the first 265 of which will be in towers of 23 and 18 storeys.

But the move was condemned by the local council leader who said the decision gave the green light to future iterations of “these monstrosities”.

The consent, delivered by inspector Roisin Barrett, covers a site at Town Square that was formerly occupied by a branch of Marks & Spencer. It also covers outline proposals for a further 230 homes on a second Town Square plot, subject to detailed approval.


Source: Makower Architects

Makower Architects’ 495-home proposals for Basildon

But Andrew Baggott, leader of Conservative-run Basildon council said the authority was “naturally very disappointed” with Barrett’s decision, which he described as at odds with “the public’s aspirations” for the town centre.

“The local community have been absolutely clear that they do not want these kinds of developments, towering in the sky at 20-plus storeys,” he said.

“They do not accord with the public’s aspirations and they do not accord with my administration’s aspirations either.

“The residents elected us to power and ejected the Labour-led alliance that voted through these monstrosities, and we remain committed to honouring their views.”

Davida Ademuyiwa, the local Tory councillor whose ward is covered by the plans, added: “The plans Labour and their allies put in place have proved difficult to unpick and we will now be left with it on our doorstep.”

Architect Makower’s indicative proposals for the second phase would deliver four more blocks, the highest of which would be 19 storeys.

The practice lodged its proposals – which also include new retail space – in late 2020.

Developer Basildon Estates launched a challenge after local authority Basildon Council failed to determine the application for the proposals in line with government timescales.

Barrett’s decision was based on evidence heard at a planning inquiry in January.

Her report acknowledged that the proposals would harm the setting of 14-storey Brooke House, built in the early 1960s, but said the impact on the grade II-listed building would be “less than substantial”.