AN UNDERPASS the width of a street and an overhaul of the railway station have been included in Thurrock Council’s vision to regenerate Grays town centre.
The first pictures of the council’s plan are published for the first time in this week's edition of the Gazette.
After weeks of consultation, discussion and deliberation, the council’s cabinet was due to note progress on the plans to restore Thurrock’s key town to its former glory on Wednesday night.
The vision, born from thoughts gathered off Grays residents, station users and town centre businesses, has been formed with the £43million South Essex College campus at its heart.
From September 2014, thousands of students will be based at the northern end of the High Street and so an underpass, providing free flowing access to the high street, could be constructed.
An overhaul of the station is also under consideration while the Gazette understands that key High Street retailers, who were not interested in locating themselves in the town a year ago, are suddenly considering the opportunity a rejigged Grays town centre could offer.
The council’s draft vision aims to “build on Grays’ strengths as a chartered market town” and be an “exciting, high quality destination for people to live, work, learn, shop and socialise”.
The vision sets out a strategy which would seek to build a local economy based on markets, convenience and specialist retail, cafes, leisure and events during the day mixed with entertainment, culture and places to eat and drink in the evening.
It intends to improve transport links around the station and the rail crossing, replacing it with a "high quality" underpass, while also creating public squares and green spaces.
Attempts to renovate the State Cinema, derelict for 20 years, are also central in the thinking of the council and town centre users. Councillors were due to talk about the plans on Wednesday.
But Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price said: “It is time for leadership. There have been too many talking shops and announcements that lead to nothing. What we need to do is promote Grays, bring in the investors who will get our night-time economy going. “The council has the money – spend it on something that would bring some real good to our town. “Get rid of the market and start using the High Street for more events to bring people in. “It is time the council started using its imagination and exercising some civic leadership instead of sitting on the sidelines whinging about how bad everything is. “Less talk, more action – let’s get on with it.”