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Jumbo plans to be approved?
8:00pm Tuesday 29th October 2013 in News
CONTROVERSIAL plans to transform Colchester’s water tower should be given the thumbs up, according to planning officers.
Colchester Council officers have said the proposals for Jumbo should be approved despite fierce opposition. Officers admitted it would cause “moderate” harm to the building. But they also argued finding a use for it was important.
The final decision will be down to the council’s planning committee when it meets next week. Owner George Braithwaite wants to create three apartments, a restaurant and a museum and observatory with a cafe in the Grade II listed building.
English Heritage has opposed the plans, as have a number of others, saying it would “radically change” the water tower. But in a report released last week council planning officers said the plans should be approved as it would revamp Jumbo, bring in shoppers and give the building a viable use.
Simon Plater, of Plater Claiborne Architecture and Design, has been working on designs for the water tower for 15 years.
He said: “Obviously it’s good news. “We have been negotiating for a long time with the council over these plans and we are of the opinion it’s the best scheme for the town that’s ever been proposed.”
Mr Plater said English Heritage was “sitting on the fence” by opposing the plans without offering another solution.
He added: “The proposal to keep it as a monument is just unviable.”
The plans would see Jumbo divided in 11 levels for offices, flats, a restaurant and museum, if permission is granted. As part of the scheme, the water tank would be converted into a museum while at the top, there would be an observatory, with panoramic views across Colchester.
Similar plans to create a restaurant and flats in Jumbo were also earmarked to be approved in 2011. But the council’s planning committee turned them down despite officers recommending otherwise. Sir Bob Russell, MP for Colchester, is against the plans.
He said: “Over the years planning officers have consistently recommended consent for whatever proposal is put forward – and elected members have consistently voted for a refusal because of the serious damage it would cause to this Grade II Listed Building.
“Consistency in planning is important. It is now up to councillors to determine what is best and hopefully consistency is something they will take seriously.”
The proposals will be discussed at a meeting of Colchester Council’s planning committee at 6pm on Thursday, October 31, at Colchester Town Hall.
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