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Wickford regeneration plans back on the table
8:10am Monday 4th March 2013 in Echo News
PLANS to plough millions of pounds into Wickford are back on the table, three years after a £100million blueprint to revamp the town collapsed.
A regular High Street market, a “substantial” extension to the leisure centre, improved health facilities and a new Sainsbury’s supermarket could all be on the cards for residents as part of the latest regeneration plan for the town, which will be discussed by councillors on March 7.
The council is already hinting up to a £1million could be spent improving the town.
Malcolm Buckley, Basildon councillor responsible for regeneration, said: “We hoped it would have all happened by now and I can understand there’s frustration among local people and they have been somewhat cynical, but I hope the public will get on board with it again.
“In terms of what’s going on, some of it will have tangible benefits to the people of Wickford. We can look at things like the swimming pool which is now a very tired structure that needs major investment if it’s to stay open and it will get that major investment.
“The issue is persuading people it will really help them and I hope with our announcement that people will believe it’s going to happen at long last.”
Previous plans to revamp the town centre were rubberstamped in 2006, but talks between Basildon Council and building consortium Community Solutions for Regeneration broke down when the recession hit in 2010.
Mr Buckley said the council could not get “the right deal” for Wickford which is why it withdrew from the process.
He added: “Since then, we have been working hard on plans for the area, talking to third party developers and landowners, and ensuring that we could bring forward a realistic and viable way forward for the town.
“This new strategy offers the opportunity to make a number of short and medium significant improvements to the area, and there are a number of projects to get excited about.”
Tory councillor for Wickford north, Michael Mowe, has welcomed the resurrection of the regeneration plans.
He said: “We have got to kick-start something off now, it has been in the pipeline for so long.
“I really welcome the fact these plans are being discussed again, Wickford will definitely benefit from these improvements and investments.”