So, what is the future for Grays town centre?

Back in 2018, the real estate investment trust, New River, brought Grays Shopping Centre with a view to redeveloping it, with a heavy emphasis on residential property. They worked closely with Thurrock Council to draw up a plan that would deliver up to 1000 new homes in guess what? Blocks going up to 15 storeys! As depicted in the illustration shown above…

There are now question marks as to whether this scheme will go ahead as New River have put the site up for sale: Is Grays Shopping Centre sale going to scupper town regeneration plan? At the time of writing, New River have so far declined to comment on why the site is up for sale.

To be honest, while New River may well not be involved in the demolition of Grays Shopping Centre and its replacement with blocks of flats aimed at London commuters, whoever buys it isn’t going to leave it as it is. Come on, it’s slap bang next to the railway station which can speed commuters into Fenchurch Street in 35 minutes! Whoever buys the site is going to tear the shopping centre down and stick up apartment blocks aimed at affluent singles and couples working in the capital – that’s where the money is these days for developers. It just may not look like the above illustration.

As we’ve been predicting for a fair few years, the plan is to ‘socially engineer’ Grays to become a more affluent commuter town while trying to sweep as much of the diverse working class population living in the areas adjacent to the town centre out of sight. Any new apartment developments in the town centre are not aimed at people living in Thurrock. They’re aimed at a youngish, fairly affluent demographic who have to work in London but even on their salaries, can’t afford to live in the capital because of the totally insane property market operating there.

All the way out from East London into Essex, starting with Stratford, Ilford, Barking, Romford, and then Grays, Basildon and beyond, there’s a theme emerging with town centre ‘redevelopment’, namely: ‘Regeneration’ – the only way is up. Granted, there’s always been a certain level of demand for apartments, but when they’re springing up in their thousands all the way out along the estuary, you can be forgiven for thinking there’s something questionable and possibly a bit sinister going on.

Whatever is going on with this trend for high rise blocks, we’ll try to get our heads around it and at some point, will comment at length over on our sister blog, Estuary Stirrings.

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