PRIMARK and House of Fraser are among the big names stores which could be attracted to Colchester - if permission is given.
Daniel Watts, a director of the Tollgate Partnership, said he had talks with both stores and with the prestigious John Lewis with a view to bringing the stores the Tollgate Centre in Stanway.
And he said if a masterplan for 20 acres of the site came to fruition, it could create in the region of 1,000 jobs.
Mr Watts said: "John Lewis won't come to Colchester because they have stores in Ipswich and Chelmsford.
"However, we have had talks with them and with Primark and House of Fraser."
The partnership has about 40 acres of land at Stanway of which 20 is undeveloped.
The company is drawing up a masterplan of proposals for what would be developed on the land.
Mr Watts said: "We would like to create an area which provides a complete experience - retail, leisure, restaurants and some business units.
"We would like to have the masterplan ready within 12 months.
"I would like to have a spade in the ground by 2016."