Basildon is set to become home to Essex's first OnSide Youth Zone, after the council's Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces committee gave the exciting project the green light last night (Wednesday 25 November).

The world class facility will cost up to £8.4million in construction costs, of which the council will contribute up to £4.1million. A preferred site has been located in the town centre in the car park opposite Trafford House as part of regeneration plans for Basildon town centre. During the committee meeting, councillors agreed to authorise the release of initial funding of up to £300,000 to OnSide, marking a significant milestone in the project. 

The Youth Zone will be open seven days a week, with more than 20 activities on offer every session for young people aged 8-19, or up to 25 for those with additional needs. It will be delivered by the national charity OnSide Youth Zones and run as an independent charity with a local board of trustees. It will also create up to 70 full and part time jobs and 100 volunteering opportunities.

Basildon Youth Zone will be built on the successful OnSide Youth Zones model, which has 14 similar centres across the UK in its network, including one in nearby Barking and Dagenham.

State-of-the art facilities could include a four-court Sports Hall, 3G outdoor kick pitch, gym and boxing and martial arts room for sports, as well as a music room with a built in recording studio, arts and crafts area, climbing wall, dance studio, sensory room, teaching kitchen and rooms to deliver projects such as Enterprise and Employability.

Chairman of the Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces Committee, Councillor David Harrison said: "We are committed to this project and we're putting our money where our mouth is because we believe a Youth Zone will have a huge impact on the borough and provide excellent opportunities for our young people that are currently not available. We look forward to supporting OnSide in the coming months as they take this project forward."

Local young people will be put at the heart of the project from the start with OnSide setting up a Young People's Development Group which will make several key decisions for the Youth Zone, from naming the Youth Zone and deciding on its branding to interviewing potential staff members.

Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive of OnSide Youth Zones, said: "Basildon Council's incredible commitment and vision means we are able to reach this exciting milestone in the journey of delivering a world class OnSide Youth Zone to the young people of the borough. OnSide Youth Zones are brilliant facilities that provide opportunities, raise aspirations, enhance prospects and improve health and wellbeing for young people."

As well as Basildon Council's multi-million pound investment, it will be funded by a combination of public and private sector contributions, with OnSide Youth Zones committed to generating the remaining £4.3million construction costs.

Leader of Basildon Council, Councillor Gavin Callaghan said: "This is the best thing to happen to young people in this borough for decades. We've been consulting with the community including local head teachers and organisations from all corners of the borough and the support for this is overwhelming. It will change the culture or youth services in the borough."

It will cost an estimated £1.3million per year to run, of which Basildon Council will contribute £400,000. OnSide Youth Zones will fundraise for the first three years prior to opening from a combination of private sector contributions and accessing charitable trusts and grants.

Young people will gain access to a wide range of programmes, services and activities. It will cost them just £5 per year annual membership and then 50p per visit. Hot, nutritious meals will be available for just £1 from the Youth Zone's café.

If you are a young person in the borough or a parent of a young person you can complete the survey and be in with a chance of winning a £25 Amazon voucher and a £100 voucher for your school. Visit Public Consultation: Help us shape a new multi-million pound Youth Zone in Basildon 

ENDS

Published on Thursday 26 November 2020