PLANS for a major redevelopment of Basildon town centre, including building one of the biggest cinemas in the country, have moved a step closer.

The blueprint for East Square, Basildon, includes a ten-screen cinema and six new restaurants.

The proposals have now moved closer to fruition after Thurrock firm, Squibb Group, was awarded the contract to demolish the existing buildings and make the site ready for building work.

The contract was awarded at a meeting of Basildon Council’s regeneration committee.

It includes securing the site for development and the demolition of Freedom House and East Walk up to the NatWest units.

The plans for East Square include the cinema, which will include the biggest screen outside of Leicester Square.

The redevelopment, which also includes significant improvements to the look and feel of the square, and the council believes it will make the area a beacon for leisure and evening entertainment, creating a thriving night-time economy.

Residents said this is a step in the right direction to reinvigorating the town centre.

Danny Lovey, 70, from Langdon Hills said: “I think anything to help the town centre at the moment is good, it does need a lot of love and attention to improve it.

“I am pleased that a contract has been awarded and the project is progressing and it sounds like the council wants to get this going as soon as possible.

“I think that residents will be pleased that work is going ahead to help renew and reinvigorate the town centre and the award of this contract shows that is happening.

“I do not underestimate the task to do this, it’s going to be a big job.

“There is concern about the number of shops closing in the town centre but this going the right way to help get more people in the town centre and redevelop it.”

Anthony Hedley, chairman of the regeneration committee, said: “These works are an important milestone and signify the start of visible works on site.

“This a vibrant development, which will bring more life into the town centre while boosting the local economy and providing new jobs for local people.

“We want East Square to be a destination of choice rather than convenience and are committed to creating a much-needed night-time economy.”

The development of the town centre area has been an on going issue since at least 2014.

Plans were drawn up but were later shelved when Eastgate Shopping Centre revealed plans for a new cinema.

New plans were then recreated in 2015, when the council put forward a new scheme, the council then announced this latest scheme.