BASILDON will be a boom town by 2031, with a new railway station in Laindon, new primary schools and shopping centres and 12,500 new homes.

That’s the view of senior councillors who believe changes to planning law will help make ambitious plans for the borough become a reality.

Basildon Council’s ambitious local plan outlines the places it thinks 12,500 new homes should go between now and 2031.

However, the council has also made it clear local services will also need to be radically improved to serve a growing population.

The plan says the borough needs a new station at Laindon, four new primary schools and new shopping centres.

It also suggests cash should be invested in new GP surgeries and Basildon Hospital.

Planning law is being changed to give councils the power to impose a Community Infrastructure Levy on developers, forcing companies to contribute to the cost of providing facilities for people moving into homes they build.

The levy will replace the old Section 106 legal agreements under which councillors sought to extract cash from developers.

RichardMoore, Tory councillor responsible for planning, said: “The levy is designed to be fairer, faster and more transparent than the previous system.

“We hope it will give us the best chance of securing infrastructure developments to go with housing.”

The new system should give councils greater freedom to decide how they spend cash they get from developers and force companies to agree beforehand how much they will contribute.

Last year, the Echo reported Essex County Council was sitting on more than £1million in unspent Section 106 cash, set aside for highway and school improvements in Basildon.

Under the old system, if this money is not spent soon, some of it may be lost to the borough.

The new system will force councils to outline when and how the cash is spent, making it less likely for to be hived off and lost.

Mr Moore said other changes to the system underlined the importance of councils agreeing a Local Plan strategy document and getting it approved by the Government.

He explained: “If we do not have a robust plan in place we will leave ourselves vulnerable to predatory developers, driven by short-term profit motives, with scant regard for what is in Basildon’s best interest, or in keeping with the character of our towns and villages.”