The Five Links housing estate was originally constructed
during the late 1960s as part of Basildon Development Corporation's transformation of Basildon
into a new town. It was the second estate to be constructed in Laindon and was built on former
residential land, which required in some cases, compulsory purchase orders, before the site
could be cleared and ready for work to begin. Tyler Avenue and Albert Drive were the only
exceptions, although Tyler Avenue was slightly shortened and closed off at one end to create a
car park, and lengthened at the other for vehicular access to Laindon Link.
The 1300+ dwellings were all given new street
names, these being: Brendon, Handley Green, Laindon Link,
Mellow Purgess, Newberry Side and Somercotes. Laindon Link, though created in the 1950s, had no
residential properties before Five Links was constructed. None of the original street names associated with the area prior to work
commencing were retained in the new development, which at that time was officially called Laindon 5.
Some of the first completed
homes were in Somercotes when the first tenants began moving in
during May/June 1970, and it was finally completed in its original form in the early
1970s - the last houses finished being in Mellow Purgess. The construction group Thomas Bates & Son Ltd, C.S. Wiggins & Sons Ltd. and
Gilbert Ash (Eastern) Ltd. were among the contractors used in its construction. A wooden Bates
sign in Hatterill, positioned to be seen from the railway, remained in place years after
the estate's completion.
The development corporation's Chief Architect Planner, Douglas Galloway and a
design team comprising; D. Brewster, J.L.C. Byron, M.W. Naughton and C.C. Plumb were
responsible for its design. The exterior bricks were supplied by Redland Bricks Ltd. 1,364 properties of all types were built at a cost of around
In anticipation of development
commencing in Laindon and Lee Chapel North a major new road
(road No. 5) was constructed which opened to traffic in 1958. This was called Laindon Link and provided a direct route to
Basildon. During construction of the Five Links estate a new road, Hatterill, was constructed,
and in September 1970 Laindon Link was closed off* at a point close to Albert Drive to all traffic. It
remained closed for just over 7½ years but was then re-opened from 10th April, 1978* as a bus only route, which
it remains today.
The majority of the houses were built in linked courtyards, and a large central green provided a
safe playing area for children. At one end, a small adventure park was constructed featuring two
large grassed over concrete tunnels, a short aerial zip wire slide and a tree-to-tree walk using a specially
constructed bridge. Near the centre of the green amongst some trees was a pond with
seating, though this was later concreted over, and much woodland was retained during the
Shopping amenities were provided some years after the first tenants moved
in. These being at Somercotes on a piece of ground that had become something of a wasteland. One
of the first to move in to the new units was Jill's hair stylist in 1973 followed by a V.G.
Foodstore. A warden controlled old persons complex was built on the remainder of the land and
given the name Somercotes Court.
For such a large estate, and not in keeping with previous
development corporation estates, no social facilities were provided until 1972 when the Bluehouse
Community Centre in Laindon Link opened. No public house was ever built within the estate itself. A
year earlier in March 1971 two public telephone boxes were provided at Somercotes and Laindon Link.
a design award*, the estate, with its many alleyways and dark areas, came in for
criticism and from the very start became known locally as 'Alcatraz'** after the former island
prison in San Francisco Bay, America.
In line with other estates built locally, all
properties had a television channel box linked to a local cable network provided by
Rediffusion. Electric underfloor heating was provided for most properties, whilst some flats
had electric ceiling heating. These would prove expensive over time and more economical Gas
fired central heating would later replace these systems. Properties in Laindon
Link were later fitted with security doors to restrict unwanted access.
During the 1980s
some properties were underpinned as a result of 'clay heave' which caused cracks to
appear. A number of walls enclosing the many service areas were blown down following the 1987
hurricane. Many were never replaced. Two concrete garages, built when the estate was constructed
for use as a storage facility by the council for their electrically operated refuse carts, were
also demolished around the early 1990s. Two bench type seats were then placed upon their hard standings.
In 1995 plans were submitted to the local council that would transform a huge area of the estate. The regeneration,
which was carried out on behalf of Basildon Community Housing Association (BCHA) and later renamed Swan Housing Association,
was planned over a number of phases. Phase 1 of the programme commenced in 1995 with the demolition of flats, maisonettes
and underground garages in Laindon Link and Brendon. A pedestrian subway under Hatterill leading off from the underground garages to a pathway to Staneway (see note 8) was
filled in and landscaped. New housing with vehicular access replaced those properties in roads now known as
Armada Close, Elizabeth Way, Raleigh Drive and Clifford Close. A new access road with parking
facilities was also built through the centre of the main central green. The two pathways
crossing the green were also given the names St. Osyth Path and Elmdon Path.
begun in 2004, saw flats in Handley Green and Somercotes demolished and replaced with new
housing. Hatterill was closed to through traffic during this time and Tyler Avenue was opened
at the top end for access to Somercotes. At the same time, two more subways, one crossing
Hatterill, the other under the Handley Green access road, were filled in. Basildon Council also
implemented new names from August 2006 to replace Brendon, Handley Green and Somercotes, despite opposition from
residents. These being: Beeston Courts, Bostocke Close, Crosse Courts, Gower Chase,
Southwell Link and Turner Close.
In 2008 phase 3 of the regeneration was submitted to Basildon Council for approval. The
schedule included the demolition of 41 dwellings and garages and the erection of 186 new homes in the form of 96 houses and
90 flats. This was given approval in March 2008 and work commenced around the beginning of 2009. The application also
included the removal of two pedestrian footbridges. The first, and older of the two, linked the estate with Laindon Shopping
Centre adjacent to the Hatterill roundabout and the second crossed Hatterill to link the estate with the Laindon 4 estate at Little
Oxcroft. This work was carried out in November 2010 along with infilling the final original subway to survive at Newberry Side to
Great Oxcroft. Replacement pedestrian slopes would replace these crossings.
The council has
also intimated that the Five Links name itself could in the future be renamed the Armada Estate.