Who’s really calling the shots?

Did anyone really think that the change of administration at Basildon Council from Callaghan and Smith’s unholy Labour / Independent Alliance to Baggott’s Tories would eliminate the threat from unwanted high rise apartment blocks in the town centre? All that has happened is that Baggott’s Tories have imposed an arbitrary height limit on any new development.

This is what we’ve written about the attitude of the current administration towards any proposed high rise development:

Not at all surprised… – August 15, 2021
Facing both ways are we? – August 9, 2021

New faces, same old shite:( – August 7, 2021

This proposal – Battle continues over high rise plans in Basildon – is the subject of an appeal to the council by the developers, Basildon Estates Ltd. Basildon Council are fighting the appeal because as one of the towers could reach as high as 23 storeys, it breaches the arbitrary height limit they seemingly plucked out of the sky. Although, as we’ve jokingly suggested before, that limit may be based on what some of the ruling group Tory councillors would see from their homes in the leafy heights of Billericay if that limit was breached!

Callaghan and Smth’s Alliance bent over backwards to accommodate the developers. They laid the ground that has now given the developers the confidence to appeal against any decision from Basildon Council that they don’t like. This is what we’re now seeing with the ongoing appeal from Basildon Estates Ltd. Because Baggott’s Tories set a height limit rather than saying they would contest every application for high rise towers in Basildon, the developers think that all they need to do is keep on appealing decisions they don’t like until the council give in.

All of which indicates that when it comes to calling the shots as to what does and does not get built, it’s the developers who have more clout than the council. Not that we’re at all surprised by this going by the experience of our London based comrades fighting the Manhattanisation of their neighbourhoods. What this does do is provide more ammunition for those of us arguing that the planning system and the local authorities who do their bidding are simply not fit for purpose.

As for the high rise towers proposed by Basildon Estates Ltd. the shadows they would end up casting would suck any semblance of life out of both St. Martin’s Square and Town Square. Currently, these spaces host a number of events. Who would want to organise an event in a location that’s going to be in the shade for much of the day? If these towers do get built, they’ll reduce these squares to soulless dead zones.

When Basildon New Town was laid out, part of the vision was to offer a sense of openness and space to the new residents moving out from the cramped streets of London. That applied as much to the town centre as it did to the estates. The proposed high rise towers would utterly destroy that vision once and for all. This is not what the people of Basildon want!

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