Basildon Council Announces Major Renovation Scheme
A project that will revamp central Wickford will keep the library at its heart, according to senior sources in Basildon council.
Plans to revitalise the Market Road area of Wickford will be based around a new library building in the same location. This is the news from senior members of Basildon Council, following the announcement of a £1.5 million scheme during the council’s recent annual budget meeting.
The news comes as a relief to local residents and businesses alike, who had feared a wholesale relocation of key public facilities to a new location outside the traditional town centre. As part of the new generation of online companies in the area, Wickford digital marketing firms have welcomed the news as a great opportunity for Wickford businesses, old and new, to enjoy further growth and a higher profile.
Market Road Redevelopment
It is fair to say that the market road area is long overdue a revamp. The community centre, library and doctor’s surgery are examples of the best, or worst, of 1960s architecture, and the area has gradually looked increasingly tired over the past couple of decades.
When the council announced plans to relocate Wickford Community Association to a new location so that London and Cambridge Properties, the company that owns The Willows Shopping Centre, could redevelop it, there were concerns that the library would be the next public building to face the axe.
But council leader Phil Turner was quick to reassure locals. He said: “The library will be remaining in the town centre.” He also stressed that it will be a key feature of the exciting new development proposed by London and Cambridge, that will feature mixed use residential and shopping facilities.
Putting people ahead of politics
Mr Turner went on to describe plans for the new community centre, commenting that although it will be moved to an out of town location in Nevendon Park, it will boast state of the art facilities and be far better equipped to serve the needs of the local community.
In something of a scathing attack on Wickford Independent members, he begged his contemporaries not to “scupper” the plans, but to put their political differences and egos aside and to get behind the new project. He also noted that this has not been achieved in past attempts, remarking: “In the past they have opposed and challenged everything the Conservative administration has proposed, including the new Health Facility in Market Road. It’s time to put the residents and community needs first and their egos second.”
While the construction of the new library has been greeted with all round enthusiasm, there is still a degree of doubt about the relocation of the community centre. However, none can dispute the fact that there is a shortage of affordable housing, particularly in the form of one-bedroom flats, in central Wickford.
Conservative councillor Peter Holliman has been at the centre of the discussions and has consulted with local residents, developers and surveyors. His view is that the proposed development is good news for the town. He commented: “We have sent in surveyors to try and restore the building, but it’s more feasible to build a new one.”