How many of Colchester’s 51 borough councillors are aware Colchester Council has agreed to give up part of the Priory Street public car park for customers of the proposed hotel on a site owned by the council off Queen Street?

Who at the Council agreed to this, and when? How much of the car park is to be reserved for the hotel’s exclusive use?

I only found out when, in July, I attended a public consultation, held at Grey Friars by the council’s chosen property developer, relating to the proposed hotel and the appalling blocks of student flats at the site of the former bus station.

Among the several things which interested me was the following statement by the developers (or their agents): “Car parking for the hotel will be in the Priory Street car park by agreement with the Council.”

I therefore wrote to the council to ask for a copy of the agreement.

A response from the development manager, policy and corporate services, informed me: “Whilst there have been discussions and agreement to the principle of such use, there is no formal agreement and this would need to be negotiated should planning permission be granted.”

On July 31 I responded: “I would be grateful if you could please provide me with a copy of the ‘agreement in principle’. I assume this exists in writing.”

Six weeks’ later I am still waiting for a copy.

The developers are confident they have such an agreement with the council. But which councillors signed off this “agreement in principle”?

Parking for the hotel has emerged as a key issue. The council has not aided other hotels with provision of car parking, so it could be argued the council is providing unfair competition while at the same time enhancing the value of the land it owns at the former bus station?

Also, the loss of parking places (how many?) will be to the detriment of other businesses in the area with the public having fewer available places to park.

The council will determine the planning application for the hotel and student accommodation.

As the council is both the landowner and planning authority, does anyone seriously believe the application will be refused regardless of the near unanimous opposition which has been expressed?

Sir Bob Russell,
Catchpool Road, Colchester