A LANDMARK building, which has dominated the Basildon skyline for years, is to be reduced to rubble over the next fewmonths.

Bulldozers have been called in to tear down the majority of the ten-storey Aviva building in the town centre.

The Eastgate Centre, which owns the tower, has decided to cut its losses and get rid of the building after trying to sell it since it became vacant in 2008.

A proposal to turn it into flats was shelved last summer.

The bottom two storeys, which are used by the centre, will remain, but the top eight will go by the summer.

Ian Clark, manager of the Eastgate Centre, said: “The works will be completed by early summer 2014, during which time the Eastgate will be open as normal for shopping.

“The offices are dated and do not meet the needs of modern office occupiers. The ground and first floors are already part of the shopping centre and will remain in use.”

The news is another blow to Basildon’s £1billion masterplan, which proposes to create 25,000 square metres of new office space and 2,000 homes in the town centre over the next two decades.

It follows hot on the heels of South Essex College pushing back the opening date of its town centre campus, following a delay in moving Basildon’s market.

Councillors had said the tenstorey tower could have been a more appropriate building for the college, instead of the plans on the table to build a new campus in Market Square.

Phil Rackley, independent Labour party councillor for St.

Martin’s, said: “I think it is a missed opportunity and a dreadful waste in tearing down what I think is an iconic building.

“I’ve always said the college is far more appropriate going in a building like this rather than on the market site.

“It seems that things are just happening in spurts for the Masterplan, there is nothing being completed.”

The building was built as offices for insurance firm Norwich Union – now Aviva – in 1985 and fully occupied until 1995, with the final tenants moving out in 2008.