A 5,000-seater arena is set to be built on the site of Basildon’s Westgate Shopping Centre in a move which would also see shops such as Argos, JD Sports and Home Bargains move closer to the town centre.

In an extensive interview with the Echo, Gavin Callaghan, Labour leader of Basildon Council, also revealed the design team behind London’s O2 Arena have shown an interest in the project, as well as a number of US firms and across Europe.

Brentwood Live:

Overhaul - a CGI of a transformed Basildon

The scheme is planned to be part of the £1billion masterplan for Basildon Town Centre.

As part of the plans, we can also reveal the Towngate Theatre would move to East Square, possibly into the old Post Office building, next to the new £25m leisure development with a ten-screen Empire Cinema, bars and restaurants.

The at-capacity theatre would also gain an extra 200 seats.

Basildon Council’s headquarters would also move nearer to the East Square, leaving St Martin’s Square to become more of a public open space.

>> New pictures reveal the 'unrivalled and ambitious' plans for multi-million pound overhaul of Basildon

Mr Callaghan said: “I have had interest from the team behind the O2 and also firms from America and Europe for the arena and it would be where the Westgate Shopping Centre is and near to the train station.

“It would be for various events including boxing and gaming events.”

He added: “The council does not need as much space as it has currently in the council building.

“There is no need to have such an expansive building and we are constantly subletting out different floors.

Brentwood Live:

Streetscape - a public realm view of the 'new' Basildon

“There are a lot of staff in the council and that’s a lot of footfall that will help shops and outlets and moving it nearer to the East Square development is a good idea that will work and help the shops.

“The council building currently has no character or civic pride and the building does not work and it’s too big, we want to have a building that council officers and residents can be proud of.

“We want a modern building that meets the needs of the council and residents better and it would make sense to have it closer to East Square.”

Mr Callaghan also outlined plans for a new improved Towngate Theatre to help draw in bigger and better shows.

>> £1bn masterplan for 4,000 new homes in Basildon 'could create ghetto'

He said it’s part of work to help create a more celebrated arts offering in the town.

He said: “I think there is an appetite for a multi-use arts facility and also for bigger and better shows.

“About 200 extra seats and a larger stage will be needed to have bigger and better shows. We are not able to have 200 or more seats in the current building so it would make sense to move it and we have talked about a rebuild and are considering the old post office site in East Square.”

The council boss said the idea behind the plan is to centralise the shops, council offices and theatre and create a more open and welcoming access to the town where the theatre and council building currently stand.

Basildon Council is set to vote on the new draft masterplan at a meeting on Wednesday. If agreed this would then be followed by a consultation.