The Basildon campus of South Essex College is to be moved onto the current site of Basildon Market. The market (what’s left of it after stupidly high rent rises) is being relocated to St. Martin’s Square – construction / destruction work to facilitate this is already underway. The relocation of the college is being funded (in part) by the sale of the current site to Redrow to form part of their Dry Street housing development. Complicated isn’t it? Particularly when the finances of the college are being called into question plus the fact that Essex County Council have had to put in £1.75million to make up for a cash shortfall for the work needed to move the market and clear the site for the college to move in: Lib Dems calls for assurances over South Essex College move amid fears over college finances – http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/15163679.Lib_Dems_calls_for_assurances_over_South_Essex_College_move_amid_fears_over_college_finances/
A housing development consisting mainly of executive style homes aimed at affluent commuters which will do zilch to clear the (seriously manipulated downwards) council housing waiting list is being built on the spacious site of a college which is moving to a town centre site where it will be nigh on impossible for it to expand should the need arise. This is combined with the unpopular move of the market involving the destruction of the only space in the town centre, St. Martin’s Square, where when the weather was right, people were able to chill out and relax before, during or after shopping or a visit to the Towngate. Seriously, you couldn’t make this up could you?
Hubris is one word that can be used to describe the arrogance of Basildon Council, South Essex College and Redrow homes in pushing forwards with this chain of developments despite widespread doubts, scepticism and outright objections from a sizeable number of people in the town. This is what happens with top down planning that’s forced on the people of Basildon with little or no meaningful consultation let alone any willingness to listen to people’s concerns and objections. Clear evidence that the system of local governance we have is not fit for purpose as people feel that planning is something that’s done to them rather than a process they can have any active, constructive engagement with.
Is it any wonder that people’s cynicism with local (and central) government is growing by the day with this level of hubris laced with sheer incompetence? What’s needed is a planning system led by the people whose experience of living in a town combines with valuable strands of local knowledge that will deliver a result that pretty much everyone will feel they have a stake in. Mind you, that will only come about after the existing political, economic and social order has been rebuilt from the ground up to meet people’s needs as opposed to satisfying the demands of the bottom line…