LAKESIDE could be turned into a bustling ‘green’ town with homes nestling alongside shops.

Consultants David Lock Associates is looking at how towns across Thurrock can be utilised as part of the borough’s local plan, which will provide new homes, a changing retail scene and employment over the next decade. These will include Grays and Tilbury, and also smaller towns like Horndon-on-the Hill, Fobbing and Bulphan.

The potential for Lakeside to be transformed into a town centre with green methods of transport, like cycling and walking, will be explored.

Plans for 1,000 new homes at Intu Lakeside were announced in 2019 when tough trading conditions led the firm to consider mixed uses for its sites.

Speaking at a meeting of Thurrock Council’s local development plan task force on Monday, Stephen Haines from David Lock said his firm would be engaging with landowners to explore future potential. He said: “Back in 2015 we started to look at the Lakeside Basin and how the potential for that area might change over time in terms of how that could become more a town centre and more of a mixed use location.

“Maybe looking at transport so it’s not always car dominated. We’ll start to look at how to refresh the whole approach to the town centres and Lakeside is critical as one of the larger areas. How can we look at that in a different light, looking at bringing in more residential with different employment opportunities as well?”

Joycelyn Redsell, councillor for Little Thurrock and Blackshots, said: “However much we want to get cars off the road, it isn’t going to happen. I think most people who go to Lakeside are not going to go there to do their shopping and get on a bus and come home.

“If there is ever an accident anywhere it closes Lakeside down altogether.”

Councillors were also worried about the threat to green belt as well inadequate infrastructure.

Lee Watson, councillor for West Thurrock and South Stifford, said: “If anything happens on the M25 we are at an absolute standstill. I’m completely for green energy and clean energy but people will always have two cars near enough to every household.”