THE next step in the regeneration of Grays was marked on Friday (29 January) afternoon when Thurrock Council Leader, Cllr John Kent, cut the ceremonial ribbon to open The Old Courthouse.
He was standing on the newly refurbished steps of the building at the top of Grays High Street and alongside John Balch from Nwes which is managing the project.
Cllr Kent said: “We have made much of our attracting billions of pounds for huge and exciting projects across the borough, but the Old Courthouse is making its presence felt in a more modest way.
“This project cost Â£3.6 million including an important Â£1.4 million contribution from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growing Places Fund.”
He said that, working with Nwes, Thurrock Council had created 12,000 square feet of accommodation for new start-up businesses as well as more established firms which will support the creation of around 200 jobs, in the town.
The council and Nwes were already partners at the former post office building in George Street.
Cllr Kent thanked architect Paul Latham from The Regeneration Practice and his team, as well as Grays-based Beardwell Construction and the council’s own regeneration team who had all worked hard to create the scheme.
He said: “The town is already becoming more vibrant and more popular with the South Essex College campus to the south and now this building and its businesses at the northern end of the High Street.
“Combined with the news that JD Wetherspoon will be developing the State, and the exciting Vision for Grays proposals being consulted on at the moment, people can see how Thurrock Council is working to make Grays a busier more vibrant and attractive place.”
He added: “This is an iconic building. It is an integral part of the town and we were determined that it would not be left to rot or just demolished and replaced with even more town centre flats .”
Speaking at the launch, Cllr Kent said: “It is also important to remember this is just part of our wider business centre programme, a programme which is being expanded further; we are planning on expanding the Tilbury Business Centre and creating a new centre at the High House Production Park in Purfleet.
“There is an undoubted demand here in Thurrock for space for business start-ups; Nwes is already in Grays at the former post office building and they recognise the potential to expand their offer in the area.”
The Vision for Grays consultation referenced by Cllr Kent launched on Thursday, 21 January and is available online through “Have my say” on thurrock.gov.uk, or by going to thurrock.gov.uk/graysfuture