Westgate Shopping Park
The Westgate Shopping Park, Fodderwick opened in November 1999. Built at a cost of around £30
million, the 142,000 sq ft, 12 unit retail development was officially opened by Basildon Council
chairman, Lynda Gordon.
During the early years of the town centre the western end had
remained undeveloped with no solid plans for its long term future. Various options were considered
but owners Basildon Development Corporation held out and as an interim measure from 1964
Basildon Council began moving some of their services into a series of linked single storey
wooden demountable units constructed along Fodderwick and beyond. Of these, one was put to use
as a council chamber and another housed the county council's first Basildon Central library,
though this later moved around 1970 to a new larger detached building constructed on the remaining unused Fodderwick
land. From 1967 onwards much of the remaining area was then used for additional temporary council offices
and a temporary council run theatre and arts complex called the Arts Centre (later renamed Towngate Theatre)
and located off the former Towngate road. This situation lasted until 1988 when the council were
able to begin vacating the site to permanent accommodation on the adjacent former Pagel Mead car
park beginning with the Towngate Theatre and the completion of the Basildon Centre in 1989 and which was soon home to
the library. Some of the temporary units remained into the 1990s but the seven acre site, now under Commission
For The New Towns ownership, was sold to property developers Teesthorn Developments Ltd., part
of Teesland Group whose plans for a retail development were accepted with work begining in 1998.
The shopping park when completed included a ground level car park and a 2 level multistorey car
park above units 2-4. The Fodderwick roadway between Southernhay and Towngate, which was once
part of a bus route in the days of Eastern National - including a lay-by bus stop - was closed
to two way traffic and paved in front of units 9-12. A zebra crossing, dating from the 1960s,
was also removed and the former Towngate road was closed to traffic and paved. The remaining section of
Fodderwick from the junction with Southernhay to the market service road now curves west to a
service bay and the aforementioned public car parks.
The new complex was to have been called the Fodderwick
Centre but a name change to Westgate - an acknowledgement of its geographical location in
relation to Eastgate - some months before opening was deemed more appropriate and it remains
that today. It was also the last major retail development project completed in the town centre.
Argos, MVC, Shoe City, Wilkinson, Rosebys, Powerhouse, Hobbycraft and JD Sports were some of the
first shops to open.
Note of interest: Not all units were ready for occupation at the time
of the official opening. Some opened in the first months of 2000 including Wilkinson on 03/03/2000.
Text researched and written by William Cox, 2012.
Copyright © 2012, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.