Basildon's state-of-the-art OnSide Youth Zone moved a huge step closer last night after a planning application was approved by Basildon Council.

Decorative image showing CGI image of Basildon Youth ZonePlans for the £8.4million Youth Zone were submitted just before Christmas by the national charity for young people OnSide, which has 14 similar Youth Zones in its network throughout the country.

Basildon Youth Zone will be the first of its kind in Essex and will give young people, aged 8-19 or up to 25 for those with additional needs, somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to, seven days a week. It will cost just £5 annual membership and 50p per visit. Facilities will include:

  • A 4-court indoor sports hallAn indoor climbing wall
  • A Fitness Suite, combining state-of-the-art gym with boxing and martial arts facilities
  • A performing arts studio
  • A music suite with instruments and recording equipment
  • A large open plan recreation area
  • Project rooms, including arts, crafts, health, wellbeing and fashion
  • Film and multi-media facilities
  • A teaching/mentoring kitchen
  • A café serving hot nutritious meals for £1
  • A multi-use games area/ kick pitch with floodlights
  • A breakout room to include activities such as employability workshops, discussions, projects and youth participation.

One of the Youth Zone's key features will be the relationships its youth work staff garner with young people to support them.

Expected to open in 2023, the Youth Zone will be located in the town centre, in the car park opposite Trafford House and off Ashdon Way as part of regeneration plans for Basildon town centre. It will be delivered by OnSide, which is working in partnership with Basildon Council.

While OnSide will develop and oversee the build of the Youth Zone, once open it will be run as an independent, local charity with a private-sector led board. It will cost an estimated £1.3million per year to run, of which Basildon Council will contribute £400,000 in addition to £4.1million towards the building costs. Prior to opening, OnSide will fundraise for the first three years revenue costs from a combination of private sector contributions and accessing charitable trusts and grants.

Leader of Basildon Council Councillor Gavin Callaghan said: "This Youth Zone will be the best thing to happen to young people in this borough for decades and will change the culture of youth services for good.

"It will also be an integral part of our vision to transform Basildon town centre which is bouncing back with the creation of 5,000 new jobs, a new multi-use arena, outdoor entertainment, more cultural spaces and activity, along with more restaurants, shops and a mix of independent retailers."

Chairman of Basildon Council's Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces Committee Councillor David Harrison said: "This is an exciting milestone for the project. A Youth Zone will have a huge impact on the borough and provide excellent opportunities for our young people that are currently not available."

Head of Property & Construction for OnSide, Adam Poyner added: "This is fantastic news, and it was great to hear such positive comments during the consultation process for the project and its design. Gaining planning permission is really exciting for everybody involved and is a huge milestone for Basildon Youth Zone and the many thousands of young people who will benefit from being part of an OnSide Youth Zone. We can't wait to work up the plans and get on site."

A Chief Executive will be appointed to oversee day-to-day operations of the Youth Zone and approximately 70 full and part-time permanent jobs will be created for local people.

OnSide has already set up a Young People's Development Group for the Youth Zone. The young people involved will make a number of key decisions ahead of opening including interior design and staff recruitment. The group's first job will be to develop the Youth Zone name, and brand,  with that process taking place in the coming months. Any young person who wishes to get involved with the group, should email


Published on Wednesday 17 March 2021