RESEARCH put forward as part of the plans to overhaul the eastern edge of the town centre shows there could soon be a shortfall of 4,000 student homes in Colchester.

The controversial plans for the land, off Queen Street, include space for 340 student rooms.

But the move has been criticised in some quarters, with opponents citing no formal backing from either Essex University or University Centre Colchester at Colchester Institute.

However, in documents submitted to Colchester Council, developer Alumno states: “If student numbers continue to grow at rates similar to the past few years, the impact of these new developments will be (a) to leave the proportion of students who can be accommodated unchanged at 62 per cent and (b) see the overall gap between the numbers of full-time students and the provision of available rooms rise from 3,650 to 4,000 [by 2021].”

At the moment, students who live in private-rented accommodation are concentrated in Wivenhoe and the CO4 postcode, with just 400 students living in the town centre.

A planning statement adds: “The development of accommodation in the town centre offers an opportunity to broaden the mix of where students live, offer accommodation closer to the UCC, support businesses in the town centre who will benefit from the spending of student residents and reduce the impact of students who are renting privately in certain residential parts of Colchester.

“The St Botolph’s Quarter development is well situated to meet the accommodation needs of students at both the University of Essex and the UCC, being less than 25 minutes away by public transport from either site.”

If approved the student blocks would be run by Derwent Facility Management.

The company already has contracts to run accommodation for students at Hertfordshire University, Greenwich University and Gloucestershire University.

A company spokesman said: “This is a very attractive opportunity and we are keen to build on our existing relationship with Alumno, bringing the benefit of our collaborative ethos and innovation to the partnership.”

Tim Young, Colchester councillor responsible for regeneration, has publicly backed the plans, claiming “a small number of students” will add to the area’s growing cultural offering, with Curzon cinema having already opened during the summer.