Friday, June 14, 2024

Huge 5,000 seater sports and music arena could be built in Basildon town centre

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Gavin Callaghan, Basildon Council’s Labour leader, is planning to revive plans for an arena in the town centre and the council is hoping to buy up the Westgate Shopping Centre as a prime location.

The plans, first touted in 2020, were for a 2000 to 5000 seat events centre, with Mr Callaghan saying that it could be used for “events, conferences, snooker, darts, live music, entertainment and e-sports.”

According to Mr Callaghan, the council purchasing the Westgate Shopping Centre would be a “preventative measure” to prevent a “London council buying the site and turning it into flats”.

He said: “It cannot be blocks of flats, it would have to offer something different.

“Previously we did make the case for an events space, hotels and a conference space, if successful, we will revisit that.

“What this bid does do and what I am keen to do is no longer rely on big developers placing a 25-storey building on that site.”

Mr Callaghan added that “to bring live sport to Basildon, you would look at something similar to the Brentwood Centre and in another new town, the Telford International Exhibition Centre”.

“Whatever people are coming for really, if you want a ten thousand capacity venue, you look towards stadiums, we are a niche market and what we identified in this region could work,” he said.

In addition to the arena, Mr Callaghan hopes an underground car park could be built on the current site of the Westgate car park.

He added: “We need to use it for an underground car park and we need to see if that is something that is achievable on that site, multi-storey car parks are unpopular and we are looking at getting rid of them.

“That needs to be a full appraisal.”

Tory leader and former leader of the council, Andrew Baggott, admitted that the council was offered the opportunity to bid for Westgate but council officers called plans “unviable.”

He said: “We went against the arena idea originally due to the lack of parking, it would invoke traffic.

“I don’t know how you would get people to come.”

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