AN office block in Basildon town centre could be bought up by the council to stop London authorities from housing their homeless in the area.

Basildon Council has confirmed it is in discussion with the owner’s of Acorn House, in Great Oaks, about the building’s future and the possibility of buying the site.

The aim is to cut down on the number of buildings in Basildon being bought by London boroughs to house their homeless residents.

In November, Basildon Council stated it had received “27 notifications” from London authorities wanting to house homeless residents in the borough.

The authority confirmed discussions were taking place, while deputy council leader, Kerry Smith, of the Basildon Borough Alliance insisted major plans for the town centre, including the East Square development, would be worthless if “the town was full of residents who could not afford a cinema ticket”.

He added: “We need to make sure we are looking after the borough and its residents.

“There are lots of positives to more homes in the town centre, and we have huge plans for the town centre, but the residents need to bring positives as well.

“We need more people in the town centre, but it all needs to be planned, what we don’t want is very poor people, already falling on hard times being dumped in Basildon.

“We have a number of permitted developments in the borough, and it does cause problems, both for the council and other residents.

“New homes being built in Basildon must benefit the people of the borough.”

Government rules on permitted developments - converting office blocks into flats - mean that plans do not have to gain planning permission, which makes it very difficult for councils to block the plans.

But Mr Smith insisted by buying the building, the council can ensure the homes are available to residents of the borough.

Acorn House is situated in the town centre next door to Basildon police station.

It previously housed a government tribunal court, Amazon offices as well as offering training services.

Businesses renting space in the block were given notice to move earlier this year, shortly after planning permission was granted to build an extra storey on top of the building and convert it into a block of flats.

A Basildon Council spokesman told the Echo: “We are currently in talks with the owners of the building about its future.”