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A Basildon Chronology
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2010   2011   2012   2013   2014
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2010

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Properties on the Radford Park housing development at School Avenue, Laindon completed. The 184 home estate was built on the site of the former Laindon comprehensive school, which opened as Laindon High Road in 1928. The property developer Bellway Homes plc acquired the site in 2007 from Essex County Council who closed the school in 2000 after Laindon merged with nearby Nicholas under the name James Hornsby High. The estate, which is named after the senior schools first headmaster George Radford, features 106 2, 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed houses and 78 1 and 2 bedroomed apartments. Although the school had closed in 2000 it was not demolished until 2007. Planning permission for the estate was granted on 28/02/2008. The homes in School Avenue, Academy Drive and College Lane all come in a wide range of styling designs that include: Beaufort, Campbell, Devonshire, Hanover, Harrison, Howard, Johnson, Osborne, Richmond, Russell, Somerset, Stafford, Tudor and York. The starting price for each property is £175,000

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1st January

Thurrock and Basildon College merge with Southend Campus to become South Essex College.

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11th January

Basildon District Museum opens in the Discovery Centre, Barleylands Craft Village, Barleylands Road, Billericay. In 2011 the group, which had formed in 2007, became Basildon Borough Heritage & Museum Group and moved to the Green Centre at Wat Tyler Country Park where they have an office and a permanent display of old photographs.

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18th January

The Woodsman Poacher, a sculptured carving by the late local artist Dave Chapple, is removed from St. Martin's Square, Basildon. The popular statue had been a fixture there since 1997 having been carved from an ancient oak tree felled in Langdon Hills as a result of the 1987 hurricane. Its removal to Wat Tyler Park, Pitsea by Basildon Council was seen as controversial and local artists, lead by Vin Harrop of the Our Basildon heritage project, conducted a wreath-laying ceremony in the square on 22nd January to mark its loss. Local MP, Angela Smith was also in attendance. The sculpture had suffered due to neglect and requires treatment before any decision is made on where it might stand in the future. The council announced plans for the landmark spherical clock, removed from Town Square around 2007 as part of the High Pavement escalator removal and regeneration programme, to stand in its place, which were soon realised in March.

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6th March

The Royal British Legion Basildon & Laindon Branch officially open their new premises at the Triangle Hall, Langdon Hills. They were previously based at the former British Legion Hall in High Road, Laindon from 1935 to 1975 when the building was subject to a compulsory purchase order by Basildon Development Corporation and subsequently replaced with private housing.

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26th-28th March

A new landmark Basildon sign is unveiled. The sign, finished in white with 5ft (1.5m) high letters, was commissioned by Basildon Council and designed and installed by local company Ace Sign Group at a cost of £90,000. It stands close to the foot of an artificial hill overlooking the A127 at the A176 junction and will be lit between dusk and dawn. Its installation attracted television and media reporting which instantly drew comparison with the iconic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, America but the local council are hopefull it will attract more businesses to the town.

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30th March

The Basildon town centre clock, removed from Town Square around August/September 2007, is returned following a restoration and relocated in St. Martin's Square. The iconic 4 faced spherical clock stood for nearly 42 years in Town Square since its original unveiling in December 1965. It stands on the site formerly occupied by the Woodsman Poacher sculpture which was removed in January and put into storage at Wat Tyler Park, Pitsea to await restoration and eventual relocation somewhere within the town.

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1st April

Bowers Gifford and North Benfleet parish council formed. 460 local residents had petitioned Basildon Council and following a meeting of councillors on November 26th, 2009 the plans were approved. The new parish elects seven councillors who took their seats following an election held in May, 2010. Bowers Gifford and North Benfleet parish becomes the eighth in the Basildon district.

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6th May

Stephen Metcalfe (19,624) elected Conservative member of parliament for the newly created Basildon South and Thurrock East constituency. He defeated Labour rival Angela Smith who had represented the former Basildon and East Thurrock seat since 1997.

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6th May

John Baron, (Conservative) (21,982), is re-elected to serve the new constituency of Basildon and Billericay which sees some areas of Basildon reunited with the Billericay seat for the first time since 1979. The general election produced the first hung parliament since 1974. The Conservative party won the most seats and formed a coalition government with the support of the Liberal Democrat Party.

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3rd/4th July

The 15th and final Basildon Festival held at Gloucester Park, Basildon. The two day festival of arts, culture and music, known as "Basfest" was run and promoted by Basildon Council. It began in 1996 at Wat Tyler Park in Pitsea, transferring to Gloucester Park in 2001 where more than 30,000 have attended each year since. Due to high running costs the free two day event was axed in February 2011 by the council in a cost cutting measure aimed at saving £80,000. Among the attractions at this years event were american disco group Heatwave, Basildon's own Eurovision song contest entrant Josh Dubovie, and Kayzar Dance. Previous main acts have included Dr. Feelgood, The Marmalade, Hugh Cornwell, Midge Ure, Swinging Blue Jeans, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, The Troggs and Gerry and the Pacemakers. To date there has been no announcement as to whether the festival will return.

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7th July

Former Basildon and East Thurrock member of parliament Angela Smith becomes The Right Honourable The Baroness Smith of Basildon. She represented the constituency from 1997-2010 winning three elections as the Labour Co-operative candidate and was formally introduced to the House of Lords on 08/07/2010. Her maiden speech was on 21st July, 2010. She was one of a number of life peers created by outgoing prime minister Gordon Brown in the 2010 Dissolution Honours list.

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25th September

Local community radio station Gateway97.8 is launched. Previously operating as Gateway Fm the station has a studio in Basildon's Eastgate Centre and broadcasts 24 hours a day to Basildon and East Thurrock after a successful application for a full time licence was granted earlier in the year. Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, was present at the radio's opening ceremony whose programmes can also be heard directly from their own internet website.

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26th October

Basildon District Council becomes Basildon Borough Council. An official dedication service, held at St. Martin's Church, Basildon on 6th December, was attended by Lord Petre, Lord Lleutenant of Essex, who presented the Royal Charter to Basildon's first mayor Mo Larkin. Also in attendance was Basildon Council's Chief Executive Bala Mahendran and Basildon Borough Council leader Cllr Tony Ball. The council had applied for borough status, which requires the Queen's seal of approval, on 24/02/2010 and this was awarded on 21st July, 2010.

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2011

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Properties on the Oaklands Grange housing development at Cranes Farm Road, Fryerns completed. The 164 home estate of affordable housing was built partly on undeveloped land and a gymnastics club training facility. The property developer Bellway Homes plc acquired the site in 2009 in a £7.9 million deal that included land at Markhams Chase in Laindon and the relocation of South Essex Gymnastics Club to Basildon Sporting Village. The land was sold off by Basildon Council to help fund the £38 million Basildon Sporting Village at Gloucester Park. The new 2, 3 and 4 bedroomed executive homes in Abrahams Close, Abrahams Way, Liddell Drive, Montague Side and Oakwood Grange all come in a wide range of styling designs that include: Beaufort, Campbell, Cavendish, Egerton, Fitzgerald, Hanover, Montrose, Neville, Osborne, Richmond, Rutland, Seymour, Spencer, Tudor, Westminster and York. The starting price for each property is £175,000.

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28th February

New Campus Basildon, led by Seevic College in partnership with Prospects College and South Essex College open a second learning campus in Basildon town centre at Church Walk House, Church Walk. Completed in 1977, Church Walk House was once occupied by Basildon Development Corporation as a property services and rent office and more recently by Basildon Council who vacated the building in 2010. An official opening day was held on Thursday 28th April attended by the Mayor, Mo Larkin, Professor Mike Thorne, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, Principal and Chief Executive of Seevic College, Sarah Wright and many others.

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27th March

Census statistics for the Basildon borough; 174,500.

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27th March

Markhams Chase Centre in Markhams Chase, Laindon closes. The council run facility, first opened in January 1989, was sold to property developer Bellway Homes for residential development to be called Hawks Park. The proceeds of the sale were put towards the cost of building Basildon Sporting Village at Gloucester Park which opened on 30th April, 2011.

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24th April

Gloucester Park swimming pool closes. The swimming pool, in Broadmayne, Basildon opened in 1968 and was run by Basildon Council. A 50 metre replacement pool, built as part of the Sporting Village at the northern end of Gloucester Park opened on Saturday 30th April, 2011. The final public session was held in the main pool between 8:00am and 3:30pm.

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30th April

Basildon Sporting Village opened. The sports centre, situated at the northern end of Gloucester Park and built at a cost of £38 million, includes a 50 metre International size swimming pool (the only one in Essex), multi-purpose sports hall, 100 workstation health and fitness suite, gymnastics centre, climbing wall and crèche facilities. The grand opening event, with free admission to the public, was held over the weekend 30th April - 1st May. Students from Northlands Junior School, Pitsea were the first to enter the water at 10:28am having won the privilege in a competition. The centre was designed and built by UK construction company Morgan Sindall and operated by leisure management company Sport and Leisure Management Ltd (SLM) under the brand name Everyone Active. Plans for a "centre of sporting excellence" were first announced in 2004, ahead of the London Olympic bid, with work eventually beginning in October, 2009. Its cost, mainly funded by Basildon Council, has been the subject of critical debate as it involved closing three existing sports facilities and the proposed sell-off of parts of a number of council owned playing fields for housing including the site of the former Gloucester Park swimming pool. Two of the closed facilities; Cranes Farm Road - home to South Essex Gymnastics Club - and the Markhams Chase leisure centre were sold in 2009 to property developers Bellway Homes with outline planning permission for future housing.

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May

Cranes Farm Road dual carriageway project completed. Work on the road widening scheme began on 22/02/2010 as part of a £14.7 million road project that included improvements to the A176/A127 exit carriageways. The road, designated A1235, linking the A176 Upper Mayne to East Mayne (A132), was constructed in stages from the 1950s with the greater part already dualled by the 1980s. The final section of dualling from west of Gardners Lane South to East Mayne had also been the first section completed in the 1950s on what the town creators Basildon Development Corporation called Road 6. Carillion Civil Engineering and subcontractor Toppesfield carried out the work on behalf of Essex County Council.

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17th May

Basildon Sporting Village is officially opened by HRH Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, KG, GCVO.

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9th June

The Royal Anglian Regiment become the first organisation recipient of the Freedom of the Borough. Under Section 249 of the Local Government Act, 1972 a borough council, of which Basildon had recently become, has the authority to nominate individuals or organisations as Honorary Freeman of the Borough. The award, which councillors unanimously voted for at an extraordinary meeting on 14th April, gives the regiment the right to march through the borough with bayonets fixed, drums beating and colours flying. Basildon Mayor, Cllr Mo Larkin presented a framed scroll to General John McColl, KCB, CBE, DSO and Colonel of the Royal Anglian Regiment at a special service held in the Council's offices at the Basildon Centre. The Royal Anglian Regiment is a Light Role Infantry Battalion of the British Army, formed on 1st September 1964 and based in Woolwich, London. It recruits from East Anglia.

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4th July

St. Georges Community Housing, Basildon Council's arms length management organisation created to manage its housing stock, is wound up. All undertakings are returned to overal council control as a cost cutting measure following consultation with tenants who voted in favour of the change.

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July/December

Royal Court tower blocks off Brook Mead in Laindon demolished. The two 10 and 8 storey blocks, both of which were constructed in the 1960s, were removed on behalf of Basildon Council and later replaced with a new housing development. King Edward Hall, used as a community centre, was also demolished as part of a £17 million regeneration by contractors Lovell working in partnership with Family Mosaic and the Homes and Communities Agency. The last occupants had moved out the previous year.

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1st September

Whitmore Primary School and Nursery in Whitmore Way, Fryerns opened. The new school formed from an amalgamation of the former Whitmore infant and junior schools occupying the same site. Iris Cerny is appointed Head Teacher having previously held the same post at the former junior school.

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2012

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27th April

Boots the Chemist reaches 50 years of continuous trading in Basildon town centre. The long established chemist, cosmetics and photography chain originally opened at No. 27 Town Square (their present location) on 27th April, 1962. They remained there until around July 1970 when an exchange of units with No. 21 Town Square, occupied by Timothy Whites, who Boots had acquired in 1968, took place. In 1981 Boots returned to No. 27 which they then shared with Timothy Whites until around 1985 when the Timothy Whites brand was retired. At the same time as the 1981 move Boots also took over No. 25 Town Square following J. Sainsbury's move to the Savacentre in Eastgate and merged the two units together, which is how it remains today.

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April

Basildon University Hospital's new Accident and Emergency (A&E) department opened. The new unit, costing £17 million, added two extra floors to the existing building which was also refurbished with a new main entrance. A purpose-built children's A&E, the first of its kind in Essex, opened on 1st March and new Fracture Clinic, opened in August 2011, were other additional features.

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8th May

Prime Minister David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat coalition deputy Nick Clegg visit the Case New Holland tractor plant in Cranes Farm Road.

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June

Howard Park in Pitsea renamed Howard Diamond Jubilee Park. Basildon Borough Council renamed the park, presented to the people of Pitsea by the Howard family in 1947, in commemoration of Her Majesty the Queen's 60 year reign.

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27th June

Poplar House older persons residential apartments at Rectory Road, Pitsea officially opened. Built as a joint enterprise between Sanctuary Group, Essex Council and Basildon Council, the one and two bedroomed apartments are targeted at the over 55s and can be either shared ownership or rented. Work began on the project in November 2009 following the demolition of Shaftesbury Court and the finished apartments, totalling 65, all feature a fully equiped kitchen, fitted carpet and shower. There is a communal garden and the complex, which is run by Sanctuary Homecare Ltd., is staffed 24 hours a day.

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6th July

The Olympic Torch visits Basildon. 11 torchbearers carry the flame on a route begining at the Sporting Village in Cranes Farm Road and proceeding along Upper Mayne, Roundacre, Southernhay, Clay Hill Road, Cherrydown East, Station Way, Ashdon Way and Nether Mayne as far as the junction with The Knares. At the finishing point the torch then left Basildon for Grays. Prior to its arrival in Basildon, on day 48 of its tour around the UK, the torch had visited Hadleigh.

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1st September

Briscoe Primary School and Nursery in Felmores End, Northlands Park becomes Briscoe Primary Academy.

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1st September

James Hornsby High School in Laindon changes its name to James Hornsby School. A new school uniform is also introduced. The school became an Academy on 01/10/2012 working in partnership with King John School in Benfleet.

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4th November

Pitsea swimming pool closes. The 25 x 12½m pool, opened in 1976 at Rectory Park Drive, was closed by owners Basildon Council as part of a £30 million Pitsea regeneration scheme despite very strong public opposition and a 4,000+ petition. It had been operated from April 2011 by leisure management company Sport and Leisure Management Ltd (SLM) under the brand name Everyone Active. It was demolished soon after.

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2013

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Properties on the Hawks Park housing development at Markhams Chase, Laindon completed. The 73 home estate of affordable housing was built over a portion of Markhams Chase recreation ground, which had been sold off by Basildon Council to help fund Basildon Sporting Village at Gloucester Park. The property developer Bellway Homes plc acquired the site in 2009 in a £7.9 million deal that included land at Cranes Farm Road. The new 2, 3 and 4 bedroomed executive homes, some of which were built over Markhams Chase Sports Centre which had been demolished in 2011, were given Markhams Chase, Markhams Close and Leinster Road street addresses and were built to the following styling designs: Beaufort, Campbell, Egerton, Fitzgerald, Montrose, Richmond, Rutland, Tudor and York. These design styles were shared with Bellway's previous development at Oakwood Grange, Basildon. A three storey block of apartments called Leinster House was also part of the same development.

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Properties on the Archers Field housing development at School Avenue, Laindon completed. The 129 home estate was built on the former Laindon comprehensive school's Archers Road playing field. The property developer Bellway Homes (Essex Division) Ltd. acquired the site in the 2000s. The estate features 123 2, 3 and 4 bedroomed houses and 6 apartments. Planning permission for the estate was granted on 23/06/2010. The homes in School Avenue, Masters Crescent and Scholars Crescent all come in a wide range of styling designs that include: Beaufort, Campbell, Devonshire, Eaton, Egerton, Fitzgerald, Lennox, Lyme, Montrose, Neville, Rutland, Seymour, Somerset, Tudor, Westminster and York. The starting price for each property is £175,000

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3rd January

The Triangle Shopping Centre at Langdon Hills is completely gutted by fire. The fire, which began at the chinese takeaway Hong Kong House in the early hours of Thursday afternoon, quickly spread to the remaining units including McColl's newsagent/sub post office and Elizabeth Louise hairdressers & beauty salon. It is the second major fire to hit the council owned centre since it opened in the 1970s. The first, back in the early 1980s, mainly affected the newsagents causing the post office to relocate during refurbishment to the adjacent community centre, which itself was the scene of major fire in 2006. Later in March due to the extensive damage resulting from the fire the entire site was demolished and cleared in preparation for an eventual rebuild.

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February

The Prince of Wales public house in Wash Road is renamed The Noak Bridge. The present building, now under the ownership of the Spirit Pub Company, dates from the mid 1930s having replaced an earlier building dating back to the 1800s. Rose Mead, 92, and a regular at the pub since the 1940s, was the special guest at the re-opening ceremony.

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17th March

The Long Riding public house closed down. Opened in 1959 at 301 Long Riding, it was named after the road in which it stands. A special afternoon and evening disco was held on the last Sunday of trading. The Long Riding, which once had its own off-license, joins a growing list of public houses to have closed in the Basildon area since the late 1990s.

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29th April

Demolition of The Railway public house in Pitsea begins as part of the next stage of the regeneration of Pitsea. Pitsea Market, now on its fourth move, is set to occupy the site of the former pub which had stood there since opening in 1927 as The Railway Hotel.

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7th May

The new bowls green in Gloucester Park opened. Created adjacent to the Sporting Village and partly where the former Murryfield pavilion once stood the greens were financed by property developers Barratt Homes who bought the site of the original greens and facilities for their Acacia Park housing development. Work to create the two bowling greens and pavilion began in 2012 and involved the removal of a large amount of earth which were then used to create a single long artificial hill to the west of the cricket pitch. Basildon Mayor, Mo Larkin officiated at the opening.

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28th September

King Edward Community Centre Open Day held. The centre, built in King Edward Court, Laindon, replaced the former King Edward Hall which was demolished during the Royal Court regeneration scheme. It is owned and operated by the housing association Family Mosaic.

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2014

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The first properties on the Dunton Fields housing development at Laindon completed. The 450 home estate was built on a 64 acre site of open fields that formed part of the Ford Research & Engineering Centre. The property developer Bellway Homes (Essex Division) Ltd. acquired the site from the Ford Motor Company who had owned the land since the 1960s when the Engineering Centre was first built. The fields had been in the Green Belt since 1957 and subject since Ford's ownership to a restricted use condition in line with their automotive activities but had been released following changes to the policy framework allowing development in the Green Belt. As part of the development, a new access link road of the Dunton Wayletts roundabout was constructed and screened from the A127. The estate, which is accessed from School Avenue, features 2, 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed houses and 1 and 2 bedroomed apartments. Planning permission for the estate was granted in two stages, the dates being 13/03/2013 and 25/02/2015, despite strong opposition by local residents who felt the area was being overdeveloped. The homes all come in a wide range of styling designs that include: Beaufort, Devonshire, Campbell, Fitzgerald, Hanover, Madison, Montrose, Russell, Sloane, Tudor, Westminster and York. The starting price for an appartment is £134,995 for a one bedroomed rising to £224,995 for a two bedrooms. House prices start from £249,995 up to £469,995.

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8th January

Pitsea market opens on the site of the former Railway Hotel public house. The Wednesday and Saturday market, which opened in 1925, is now on its fourth site after moving the short distance from its previous location which it occupied for 36 years. The move also saw a reduction in the number of stalls and units from over 200 down to 89. The final market day on the third site was held on Saturday 4th January 2014. A Friday second hand market introduced at the previous site was also continued at the new location.

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February

The new Woodlands Comprehensive School in Kingswood, Basildon opened. The new school was built over a playing field adjacent to the existing school, first opened in 1958 and which was considered outdated with poor disabled facilities. Plannng permission had been granted by Essex County Council's Development and Regulation Committee on 16th December 2011 and in April 2012 work began on a new access road to be called Woodlands Approach off the A176 Nether Mayne. This was followed by a 'Groundbreaking Ceremony' on 17th July when the first mechanical digger arrived on site. The mixed school can accommodate up to 1,500 students aged 11-16, making it amongst the largest in Essex. The three storey school was designed by Nicholas Hare Architects in partnership with the construction company Skanska, who were also responsible for the structural design and future maintenance. It is built around a central atrium and has a floor area of 11,360 square metres. Outside features include an artificial grass playing surface. The cost of the project was put at £25 million, which included demolition of the old school, carried out by (RIS) Reactive Integrated Services soon after the opening, and landscaping of the old school site. Work on the consultation and planning had involved the then Headteacher Andy White, who unfortunately would not be in the post on completion having resigned his position in December 2013 over unrelated matters. An executive headteacher, Mrs Karen Kerridge from The Appleton senior school in Benfleet was put in charge for the opening before a permanent headteacher, Simon Cox, was appointed later from September 2014. In 2015 Skanska built a £1.800 million vocational training facility to add to the on-site facilities. From 1st April 2015 the school converted to Academy status sponsored by the Takely Educational Trust.

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16th February

A fire at Bluehouse Farm Community Centre in Laindon Link, Laindon completely destroys part of the building including the hall used by the Busy Bees nursery. Although the adjoining social club was unaffected the future of the council owned fire gutted hall is still to be decided.

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23rd February

Street lights in Basildon are switched off between 12:00 midnight and 05:00am as a cost saving measure by Essex County Council. The decision, which met with widespread disaproval, was expected to save £220,000 annually and affects the whole county. The initial switch-off was planned for 01/11/2013 but this was rescheduled for 31/01/2014 and then delayed again when Basildon Council questioned the decision, citing fears about crime. Five housing estates were given exemptions, these being: Felmores, Chalvedon, Pitsea 1, 2 & 3, Craylands and Five Links in Laindon. In December 2014 Cranes Farm Road was added to the exemptions following a late night pedestrian fatality on November 30th. From 30th March 2015 the switch-off was rescheduled for 01:00am to 05:00am with the exception of Sunday, which remains the same.

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26th March

Basildon's main Crown Post Office located at 25 East Square closed. The counter service, which had existed at East Square in a purpose built building since July 1963, was closed by the Post Office who, following a consultation period, accepted a franchise deal transferring the business into retailer W H Smith's Town Square branch from 27/03/2014.

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10th July

The Mayor of Basildon, Cllr Mo Larkin J.P. officially opens the new Market Square site at Pitsea. A commemoration stone laid by the Mayor and dated 2014 can be seen on a wall facing the site. Both this and a new Aldi supermarket located adjacent to the market were completed by Vinci Construction UK on behalf of London and Cambridge Properties.

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10th July

German discount supermarket chain Aldi open a new store at Northlands Pavement, Pitsea. The new store forms part of the second Pitsea regeneration project and was built partly over the former market site and some previously demolished shop units that once housed the Co-op and Castaways Entertainment Restaurant. Prior to the opening, from 2000, Aldi had occupied part of the former Sainsbury's building at Rectory Park Drive which was then demolished as another aspect of the regeneration project. Basildon Mayor, Mo Larkin performed the ribbon cutting ceremony.

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5th December

Kent View Road Community Centre officially opened. The centre, which is located within the recreation ground, replaces an earlier building erected during the 1970s for the Council's Playleadership scheme. The Mayor of Basildon, Mo Larkin undertook the opening duties.

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19th December

Sempra Homes Limited incorporated as a private limited company by Basildon Council for the construction of domestic buildings. Amongst the first new build properties to be managed by the company are upper floor flats at Lincewood Court in Langdon Hills and houses at St. Nicholas Mews, Lee Chapel North.

 
Text researched and written by William Cox, 2010 with revisions and additions 2011-2017.
Copyright © 2010-2017, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

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