Article by Kirsty Hough: A town council is planning to demolish and rebuild a community centre to place its own office there at a cost of £1.2million, which will be partly funded from a council tax increase.
Billericay Town Council has applied for planning permission for the development at the site of the Day Centre, Chantry Way, Billericay.
The plans submitted to Basildon Council include the demolition of the centre to make way for the new centre, which will be both for public use and for town council offices. However, plans have not yet been submitted for a new centre at the site.
The planning application states that the building has no architectural or historical merit and the demolition does not adversely affect wildlife, ecology and the risk of flooding.
Jim Devlin, Conservative chairman of Billericay Town Council, told the Echo that the works are being funded partly by cash held by the town council, partly from a Government loan and also by tax payers after the town council increased their precept by 13.6 per cent.
He said this increase works out as about £2.70 extra per house per year. He said:
“The building was constructed in the 1970s and the town council took it over from Basildon Council about two years ago now. The town council is in a position to be able to invest money in the centre to give a much better facility. We are planning to build a new centre that will serve partly as a town council office and also as a community space, with rooms and spaces for groups and the rest of the community. We have been told from architects and engineers that we must clear the site and demolish the current centre before we plan and build a new one. Residents are aware of the tax increase and we haven’t have any feedback.”
Philip Gibbs, Ukip candidate for Billericay East in next month’s local elections, said it’s important that the residents benefit from the new centre. He said:
“I do not think that it is major concern that the tax was increased to fund the development as long as the residents get a good facility for them to use. I haven’t not heard much at all about these plans.”
Article by Kirsty Hough, The Echo