Marson Property Ltd has been given the go ahead on appeal for the redevelopment of the Town Square North shopping centre in Basildon to create 495 new homes above an improved retail, leisure workspace and amenity offer for the town centre.

Montagu Evans advised on heritage, townscape and visual considerations for the application, which proposed:

  • detailed planning permission for the demolition of existing floorspace and creation of new buildings up to 23 storeys to provide 265 new homes
  • outline permission for the demolition of existing floorspace and creation of new buildings to provide up to 230 new homes along with the improved retail, leisure workspace and amenity facilities in the town centre
  • external alternations along with associated landscaping, amenity space, car and cycle parking, new pedestrian accesses and circulation, plant and storage, and associated works

Although Basildon Council originally refused the application on grounds of height and scale, Planning Inspector R Barrett BSc (Hons) MSc MRTPI IHBC noted that: The design was tested against the imperatives of maximising the potential of a brownfield Town Centre site, achieving density, ensuring viability, townscape impact and landmark identity. Reasons for discounting the low and medium rise options and favouring a podium and tower option are provided. Together, they provide a clear rational for the high rise option promoted in the appeal scheme, given the appeal site’s sensitive location and relationship with Brooke House.” She later added: The Town Centre is in need of regeneration. The appeal development would deliver that, bringing about transformative change.”

Basildon was one of the largest of the New Towns created following the Second World War.  The site is located on the north side of Town Square and west side of St Martin’s Square in the town centre, close to its railway station. Within the same block is Brooke House, a Grade II listed residential tower block and the town’s first tall building, which was factored into these proposals. Basildon Council is delivering 41% of its objectively assessed need for housing.

Lucy Markham, Partner at Montagu Evans and Historic Environments and Townscape specialist, said: “Housing-led town centre regeneration plans are essential for delivering the number of new homes we need, especially in Green Belt authorities like Basildon where supply is constrained.

“This is an ideal site for intensification, close to the station, with creative ideas for bringing in a greater range of uses in place. Having been able to demonstrate that the nearby listed building was being treated sensitively and the wider benefits these proposals would bring to the area outweighed the identified harm, we are delighted that these plans can now go ahead.”