A third shortlisted consortium of developers has dropped out of the running for the £1.25bn private-public partnership regeneration of Basildon town centre, in Essex.

British Land and Lend Lease have this week pulled out of the 20 year project, blaming the economic downturn, and leaving only one remaining bidder.

Wilson Bowden and its parent company, Barratt Homes is still involved in the procurement process with the Basildon Renaissance Partnership, despite being part way through the sale of its town-centre development arm.

A consortium was originally expected to have been chosen last June, but the process has been hit by the downturn as two other bidding consortiums dropped out of the race last year.

The future of the proposed 600,000 sq ft of offices, 530,000 sq ft of retail and leisure, and 3,650 homes is now uncertain.

Ian Butt, development project director at Basildon District Council, said: ‘These are very testing times for the industry and regeneration projects. We are pleased that we are able to continue our dialogue with Barratt/Wilson Bowden.’