AN avalanche of criticism has fallen on to plans for new student accommodation in Colchester.

The town’s Green Party said it had “serious concerns” about the proposed St Botolph’s Quarter development after attending the recent public consultation.

Plans were put forward by Alumno Group and Building Partnerships, which include a 90 bedroom hotel and shops.

Green campaigner Mark Goacher said: “Unfortunately this seems to be a huge missed opportunity.

“Most of the proposed development is expensive student accommodation, yet this is supposed to be a cultural quarter.

“There are no additional heritage or cultural facilities.

“Also Colchester is crying out for a low rent, Lanes style area of independent retail outlets.

“It is concerning the student accommodation is likely to be high rent and unlikely to be affordable to most students without adding to their debt problems.

“While we welcome the intent to minimise additional traffic, we are concerned increasing pressure will be put on Priory Street car park by the hotel.”

The Alumno Group has assured residents the 330 bed blocks will be in keeping with the area and student behaviour will be monitored.

It has not yet submitted a planning application to Colchester Council, but will do following the consultation and said it aims to deliver the completed development scheme in 2020.

Marc De’ath, who has been involved in the Queen Street and Priory Street cultural areas for a number of years, said the consultation period has not been long enough.

He said: “When the vision for a Cultural Quarter was unveiled, many in the community, including myself, bought in.

“They invested and helped to fill the void, during what has been, a pregnant pause in development.

“They have loved, cherished and animated a little patch of tired land that otherwise would have been blighted and a real eyesore.

“They did so in belief we were getting a Cultural Quarter.

“I understand, the climate and, therefore, the brief has changed.

But to me, whether I like the end outcome or not, I don’t feel I have been consulted properly on the current designs.

“In no way do they build on the fine grain of the community or help Colchester reach its full cultural potential.”

David Campbell, managing director of Alumno Group, said the plans would be a significant investment in Colchester.

He said: “We are delighted to be part of such exciting placemaking plans.

“We want to produce a scheme that complements the historic heritage of the town, delivers sustainable uses and complements the emerging character of the Cultural Quarter.”