CAMPAIGNERS have warned the overhaul of Basildon town centre could only serve to bring more wealthy out-of-towners in and leave existing residents in the dark.

Basildon Council plans to reduce the Eastgate Shopping Centre and create almost 3,000 homes and up to 481 new jobs.

But borough historian Vin Harrop, 83, says it will not help Basildon people get homes and will instead draw in more wealthy people from London.

However, Labour council leader Gavin Callaghan refuted this - saying the plan has always been to put Basildon and the borough’s residents first.

Mr Harrop said: “I question if people want to live in high rise blocks of flats and it won’t be for Basildon people as they cannot afford these homes.

“It will see council homes split from people who can afford the new homes who are coming in from London. It’s all wrong and not what Basildon is about - we’ve always been inclusive.

“It will create a Manhattan or Chinese style area and I am concerned about people wanting to be outside especially with the coronavirus. I know there are plans for balconies but it doesn’t compare with being outdoors.”

Residents joined discussion online about the plans demanding more infrastructure is sorted before the homes.

One mum said: “Homes for thousands of people. Where are these thousands of people’s children going to attend nursery, school and doctors?

“Are they building new schools and surgeries? I bet not. This is very worrying.”

Labour boss Mr Callaghan said: “The whole approach has been ‘Basildon first’ and we will bring forward policies which make it clear it will be Basildon people who will get first refusal on the homes.

“We will have some homes for the housing association which will help with council housing waiting lists too. This is also not just homes but includes retail, restaurants and cafes too.

“It’s as much about helping people get onto the housing ladder and encouraging them to spend their money in Basildon too.

“We have a choice about building on our green open space or in areas like the town centre where there’s shops and good transport links too. This is the biggest chance since 1949 and these homes will help younger people who don’t have much chance to get onto housing ladder.”