NEW images revealing how a long-awaited town centre development could look have been revealed.

Colchester Council is proposing a “multi-use” development for Vineyard Gate, featuring offices, flats, leisure uses and “boutique shops”.

It said a number of development companies are interested in taking on the development.

Gazette: Ambition - looking east down the reinstated Vineyard Street

But Tim Young, (Lab) Colchester councillor responsible for business and culture, said it was too early to say when work could start.

He said: “This imaginative new proposal will regenerate this site, bringing new jobs and homes to the local area, and continue the transformation of St Botolph’s and the town centre.

“We have most of the land we need to make this happen. All we need and want is in our possession now.


Old plans - how the development was planned to look initially

“We need a development partner in place before we have an exact timetable.

“We have these architect drawings but we are still at a very early stage and it is an expression of what we would like to see.

“We have some development partners interested and now it is a question of taking it forward.”

Vineyard Gate was first mooted to transform Colchester town centre in 2002.


Second time around - the council's second hope for the scheme 

But despite being on successive administrations’ wish lists, it has never materialised.

The latest proposals for a £70 million shopping centre were dropped last year after out-of-town shopping centre Tollgate Village got the go ahead from a planning inspector.

Darius Laws, leader of the Conservatives in Colchester, said he welcomed the new images but it was time to see more action.

He said: “I welcome the concept of a mixed-use development on that site.

“I think most people have accepted retail and the town centre has changed since the iPhone and that is only in the last ten years.

“But we don’t want to see a high-density residential site with a token shop.

“It’s the town centre, so the space needs to have retail and experience opportunities.

“It’s very frustrating it has taken this long for us to see something that is realistic.

“I don’t understand why Chelmsford has got Bond Street in the time we have been talking about Vineyard Gate.

“I can commission an architect to do wonderful images out of my own pocket but the council needs to do something about this.

“I want to encourage them to crack on with it and get us a result.”

The latest proposals for the site include illuminating the Roman Wall, creating new public open space and reinstating the old Vineyard Street, creating a shopping and leisure experience.

In February 2018, Colchester Council appointed architects GT3 to look at potential opportunities for a mixed-use scheme on the historic 2.5-acre town centre site a number of surrounding properties.

Director of GT3, Simon Dunstan, said: “Combining a wide range of uses, spaces and activities, the development will create a unique, new neighbourhood with a strong sense of community and identity and, in so doing, attract investment and act as a catalyst for future regeneration in the area.”