A contractor has finally been selected to carry out the long-awaited rebuild of a busy shopping complex – but they have come at a price.
Diamond Build PLC has been chosen by Basildon Council to resurrect the Triangle Shops in Langdon Hills after the popular precinct was turned to rubble following a fire in January 2013.
The contract is worth £1.8million, but the Tory administration has had to pay £285,000 extra to secure the company, after previous attempts to find a developer failed.
Work will start inMay. Some of the extra cost will go towards fitting sprinklers inside the building. Four of the previous shops on the site were destroyed in the blaze.
Sandra Hillier, Tory councillor for Langdon Hills, said: “The shops in the west of Basildon are dire and there are a lot of elderly people in the area.
“It’s an essential complex, which is much valued by residents, so the sooner it is built the better.
“In hindsight it probably wasn’t the best idea to go to tender over Christmas, but I understand the extra cost can partly be explained by the sprinkler system. The safety of residents and tenants is paramount.”
The project has been beset by delays, with a completion date of September this year looking unlikely. It will probably now be April next year.
Councillors claim the new complex will be better than ever, with two extra units added to the original four, and five flats above.
An extra six car parking spaces will also be created, bringing the total to 25.
Four shops – McColl’s newsagents, Hong Kong House Chinese, Elizabeth Louise hair and beauty salon and the chip shop – have indicated theywill return.
The rebuild will be funded by an insurance payout, and the Tory administration has borrowed £1.1million. The extra £285,000 will come from the council’s capital budget.
Local delight at plans
RESIDENTS are delighted the rebuild could finally happen.
More than 15 months after the Triangle Shops burned down, locals claim they expected work to have at least started by now.
But the news that work could finally begin by the end of May has been welcomed.
Jenny Thorpe, from the Langdon Hills Estate Resident’s Association, said: “It’s excellent news they have got in a good company and work is starting soon.
“It’s a bit disappointing they have had to pay out more than they budgeted for, as that money has to come from somewhere.
“But if we’re getting a good rebuild, with good shops, then residents will be happy.”
Martin McColls launched a pop-up newsagents shop in the car park of the site last autumn to give residents a temporary convenience store.
David Burton-Sampson, also from the association, said: “It’s disappointing this has taken so long, but hopefully the rebuild will happen soon and residents and the businesses will have their shops back.”