Wickford regeneration on the agenda

  Posted: 09.09.21 at 22:07 by Charlie Ridler: BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service

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WICKFORD residents are set to have their say on how the future of the town centre could be transformed.

According to Basildon Borough Council documents, a masterplan is being developed and residents’ views could help the town centre recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

If approved, the public would be asked for their opinions on new homes and retail, the size of Wickford Market, culture and leisure opportunities and Saturday High Street road closures.

A council agenda reads: “The regeneration of Wickford Town Centre remains a key priority for the council.

“There is a need to continue to rejuvenate and improve the vibrancy of this town centre.

“Wickford has a growing population and it is important that the town centre is revitalised to encourage inward investment to accommodate this growth and to ensure that Wickford is sustainable as a retail and leisure location.”

The agenda also says a previous consultation in 2019 resulted in the current six month trial for Saturday road closures in the High Street, which are due to expire this November.

Information from a new consultation would be used to decide whether to permanently close the High Street for cars.

According to a draft set of questions to be considered by the council, residents would be asked what they would change about Wickford town centre to make it better or if they would leave it as it is.

Options include building more houses and shops, opening more businesses and nightlife and providing more opportunities for communities to come together.

They would also be asked for their priorities for potential new houses, for example their appearance, affordability, accessibility, size, location and balance of tenure.

Also up for consideration are more culture and leisure opportunities in the town centre, as well as car parking, public art, green spaces and climate change mitigation.

Residents would then be asked how successful they feel the Saturday High Street closures have been and if they would support keeping it closed to all motorised vehicles.

Finally, the size of Wickford Market and whether it could be improved will be put to residents.

This follows a separate public consultation over the masterplan for Basildon town centre after the change of administration in May 2021. Basildon Council is currently involved in an ongoing appeal after plans for a 17 storey high-rise tower of 492 flats were stalled.

The Regeneration and Economic Development Committee will vote on whether to consult Wickford residents on Tuesday, 14 September.

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