A square in the centre of Basildon is about to undergo a series of improvements as part of a multi-million pound scheme.
St Martin’s Square, which is located in the west of the town centre and currently houses everything from the Towngate Theatre to the Basildon Council offices, will be regenerated as part of the ambitious plans.
The construction firm Thomas Sinden will carry out the work. A wide range of improvements will be made – including a re-paving process, the installation of seats, and changes to the drain system.
In addition, landscaping will be carried out around the site as well as to the greenery around the square’s church of the same name. St Martin’s of Tours Church has been on the site since the 1960s, and is a local landmark.
And an application was submitted to fell some trees as part of the development.
Thomas Sinden sent an independent tree consultant to verify the situation with the trees that were already in place, and later submitted an application to remove them.
With the square about to start playing host to almost fifty stalls at Basildon Market, those behind the project were optimistic about how it will play out. “The works will open the space up, reducing the chance of antisocial behaviour and making St Martin’s Square more visible,” a spokesperson for Basildon Council told the local press.
Funding for the scheme comes from a wide range of sources, including the council itself.
As well as the renovations planned for St Martin’s Square, Basildon Council is also aiming to revolutionise East Square with a brand new all-day leisure facility which truly will have something for all residents of the area.
Under the plans, the new site will have a range of dining options to choose from as well as a multiplex cinema with ten different screens.
Plans hit what appeared to be a standstill late in 2019 when a contractor in the supply chain, Simons Construction, announced that it was going to into administration.
It is not currently clear what the next stage is likely to be.
The history of the project reveals some grand thinking on the part of the council.
Basildon Council announced that architecture firm Pollard Thomas Edwards would be designing the building after the firm was victorious in an architectural competition. Following that, cash to fund the scheme was approved at the end of 2017 and a planning application was submitted in March.
The square is currently comprised of a number of businesses including hair salons, vape lounges and more. And with Grade II-listed building Brooke House located just next door to the site of the proposed new building, the development is also likely to play a role in enhancing the area as a prime public space.
Local politicians are looking forward to the site’s construction. “This development is a great opportunity to boost the local economy and provide new jobs for local people,” said Councillor Alan Ball, Basildon Council’s Chairman of the Regeneration and Environment Committee.
“We want East Square to be a destination of choice rather than convenience and are committed to creating a vibrant town centre with a viable night-time economy,” he added.
As of February 2021, the project is due for completion in the summer of this year. Chief Executive of Empire Cinemas, Justin Ribbons said:
“Despite the current difficulties caused by the pandemic across the leisure and hospitality sector, Empire Cinemas is excited to be coming back to Basildon and we feel that cinema will remain at the heart of the community and are looking forward to opening.
“Cinema is the key to regeneration and is a popular activity for all ages.
“We will be running parent and baby screenings and other initiatives that will appeal to a large cross section of the community.”
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