BASILDON’S council boss has set out his plans to transform the town and ambitiously declared: “Nothing is off the table.”

New Labour boss Gavin Callaghan said the overhaul would cost hundreds of millions of pounds and hit out previous administrations’ “20 years of failure”.

Southend Standard:

Boss - Gavin Callaghan

Southend Standard:

Overhaul? - Basildon train station

Southend Standard:

In need of help? - Basildon town centre

Mr Callaghan’s first plan is to ensure a planned new transport ‘hub’ - which would combine the Basildon bus and train stations - is delivered in the town centre.

The council leader said: “At the moment people have a terrifyingly wrong impression of the borough. When they get off the train or the bus we want them to see a town which is thriving and full of things to do.

“This will all be fed into a plan which will be one of Basildon’s biggest investments in 70 years.”

As part of that long-term plan, he has also pledged new infrastructure, including housing, roads and charging points for electronic vehicles, with the hope of attracting new investors into the town and encouraging young professionals to stay in the area.

Mr Callaghan has already met with bosses at Essex County Council to discuss re-designing the road network.

He added: “Nothing is off the table. I want to transform the entire town, from the Five Links roundabout through the town.

“We all know we’re heading towards electronic vehicles and housing remains a large issue; there’s a housing waiting list of 4,000 people and young professionals can’t afford £30,000 deposits for their own home.

“To make the investment viable we need to include residential apartment blocks and make plans future proof.”

A committee, which will explore the overhaul, has been created. with the investment process formally beginning on July 17.

A master planner will be drafted in to sketch out the town plans and a public consultation will follow, which will be open to all residents.

By March, it’s hoped a new master plan will be put in place, alongside planning applications, ready to get the development underway.

Mr Callaghan added: “We can’t kid ourselves that 20 years of failing can be solved easily. The scale of the challenge is huge, so the reform needs to be equally as big and bold.

“What we want is a joint venture from the council and the private sector. We won’t be raising council tax to pay for this.

“Already there’s been an interest from investors in the last month and the majority of residents [feel] the town centre needs to improve desperately. What we needed 70 years ago and what we will need 70 years from now is a place to come together and congregate, which is pivotal.”