A couple of weeks back on September 24th, Basildon Council’s Policy and Resources Committee approved the ‘regeneration’ strategy for the town centre: A strategy that sets out the direction of regeneration for Basildon town centre has been approved by Basildon councillors. A strategy that will see the town centre totally transformed from the open and spacious vision of the new town planners to a dystopian hellscape of towering apartment blocks.
We imagine that the booster in chief of this ‘regeneration’, the leader of Basildon Council, Cllr. Gavin Callaghan (Lab), is ecstatic over the masterplan being rubber stamped. Callaghan is certainly doing his bit fending off any criticism of the scheme on social media. Here’s one telling quote from him on a Facebook discussion with a number of pissed off residents:
I think facebook is a dangerous echo chamber bubble. We have had 16 months of consultations. We are currently on the 13th(!) consultation exercise in 6 months. All of which have been a majority in favour. So yes there are several people against but my inbox is full of people saying “this is exactly what Basildon needs, keep going”. So with respect, you’re not speaking for the majority either. You’re speaking for a majority of facebook users, not residents or businesses in the borough.
A fair few people may have been aware of the council’s own consultation over their ‘masterplan’, – here’s a very brief progress update from them (with links to considerably more detail/planners waffle): Basildon Town Centre Masterplan – Progress on development proposals September 2020. What they may not have been aware of were all the other consultations from the developers seeking to tear down existing buildings on various sites across the town centre to stick up a hell tower or two.
How the f**k, in a really difficult year for many of us, were the residents of Basildon supposed to wade through a complex council masterplan plus all of the offerings from the developers?! As one resident put it:
13 consultations in 6 months! 13 consultations in 6 months! Do you hear yourself? Who ever could have kept up with all of them? Who ever could have read through the technical blah blah time after time after time and navigated the ridiculous wording of the consultations where some of the questions give the choice of being ecstatic, very pleased or just pleased at the development?
If Callaghan is trying to con us into believing that the residents of Basildon responded in their thousands with the majority expressing support for tearing the town centre down and sticking up a load of hell towers, he’s seriously deluded. Responding in a meaningful way to any planning consultation is a time consuming exercise and one that with due respect, is generally only undertaken by people who already have a fairly serious interest in urban planning. It most certainly isn’t an exercise in democracy!
Here’s a timely reminder that Callaghan has a few links with property developers: What a tangled web they weave. This piece was written just over two years ago but we’re re-publishing it because it’s pretty revealing. We would normally leave you to draw your own conclusions but please understand that we need to get this one off our chest – Callaghan, you are full of bulls**t!