JUMBO owner George Braithwaite has declared he will fight on to convert the iconic water tower.

Colchester councillors threw out the £3million application at a planning meeting, claiming the plans would damage the structure’s heritage.

But millionaire Mr Braithwaite said the decision was politically motivated and he lays the blame at the door of Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell.

Mr Braithwaite said: “Before the last application, he wrote to everymember of his party saying they should refuse it.

“Planning applications should not be political and he should not have done that.

“This time, they towed the party line again.”

Mr Braithwaite said he did not want to discuss the application with the MP saying: “I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him.”

Before the first planning application, Sir Bob said the Conservative councillors should declare an interest.

This was because Mr Braithwaite gave £2,000 to the North Essex Conservative Association and allowed a Tory banner to be hung from Jumbo as part of Will Quince’s unsuccessful bid to become MP.

Thursday’s meeting was told Sir Bob had again contacted the council’s chief executive, Adrian Pritchard, suggesting Conservative councillors declared an interest because of the donation, However, the issue was dismissed by the monitoring officer.

Mr Braithwaite said he would continue with his plans for the Grade II* listed building.

He said: “It is a lovely building.

“The Victorians would be looking at us and frowning and thinking what a load of idiots we are.

“They probably pulled down a 1,000-year-old building to put it up.”

He added: “I love old buildings, I am passionate about them.

“I don’t regret buying it, but I do regret being involved with Bob Russell.

“He has made this political.”

Mr Braithwaite bought the 19th century water tower eight years ago at auction for £330,000.

He has now had two planning applications refused. The latest would have seen the tower divided into 11 levels for offices, flats and a restaurant.

Amuseum would have been set up in the water tank, with access allowed to the belvedere observatory 116ft above the ground.

Coalition councillors voting against the project objected to the glazing being installed between the four legs of the tower. But Mr Braithwaite said: “What we have suggested is the only economic solution.”

He said he will now consider what course of action to take next.

Colchester Council officers had recommended the scheme be approved and Mr Braithwaite said he was considering whether to appeal to the Government.

Another option could be to issue a purchase notice. This means he would argue there is not a viable financial option for the building and the council could be compelled to buy it off him.

He added: “The other options are to sell it or leave it, but something will be done.

“I am not walking away from this project or from the people of Colchester.

“I believe 90 per cent of them want something done with the building and I am here to fight for them.”