Essex's first Youth Zone could be located in Basildon town centre after councillors agreed a proposal in principle to acquire land from Basildon Town Centre Management (BTCM).

Basildon's Policy and Resources Committee met last night (Wednesday 21 October) to discuss ongoing negotiations with BTCM to acquire land in order to progress the Youth Zone project.

More than 38,000 members are making around 500,000 visits to OnSide's existing network of 14 Youth Zones every year. They are drawn by the array of activities and support on offer seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, from DJ'ing to climbing, basketball coaching through to support into employment.

Committee Chairman and Leader of the Council Councillor Gavin Callaghan said: "Basildon's young people deserve better than the current offer. That is why we have responded to public calls for improvements to youth services for young people by agreeing a deal to bring a 21st century Youth Zone into the heart of Basildon as part of the regeneration. 

"We want only the best for Basildon's young people and this is what a Youth Zone will deliver and it will be located in the heart of the town centre. The decision to release the funding now means that a planning application can be submitted in the coming months and allow young people to have more say over what they want to see the facility offer and be called. It will be a state-of-the-art facility like no other that Basildon has ever had before.

"Crucially, it will be located in the town centre, close to all the transport links and the college meaning all 8 - 19 year olds in the borough will have access. It will change the culture of youth services in Basildon. The council is investing in the lifetimes of its young people.

"Youth Zones are for all young people as well as the local community and will positively change lives.

"We'll be running a consultation in November and the early part of December where we want as many young people in the borough as possible to give us their views so we can provide the opportunities they want and need."

OnSide Youth Zones Chief Executive Kathryn Morley said: "This is a really positive move forward in our journey to building this fantastic OnSide Youth Zone for Basildon's young people. The location of a Youth Zone is integral to its success and our team has worked closely with Basildon Council to identify this excellent site. We look forward to the next steps which includes the borough-wide consultation with young people."

Councillors agreed the proposal to acquire car park 11, which is situated off Ashdon Way opposite Trafford House, for the development of the Youth Zone.

For more information about OnSide visit  www.onsideyouthzones.org

ENDS

Published on Thursday 22 October 2020