THE controversial plans for Colchester’s “cultural quarter” are being given an overhaul and will be better the next time, a leading councillor has declared.

Tim Young was speaking as a guest on the second edition of the Gazette’s new weekly podcast.

Plans put forward by developer Alumno, which include more than 300 student flats as well as a board walk alongside the northern side the town’s Roman wall, have proved to be divisive, with critics citing issues with design and the impact the scheme would have on an archaeological rich area of the town.

More than 400 objections have been received by Colchester Council with relatively few letters of support.

The plans were initially earmarked to be decided upon by Colchester Council planning committee members this month, but that hearing is now expected to take place early next year.

Mr Young said: “If people had looked into it and gave it a chance, they would see Alumno has some really good ideas.

“It fits in with the local plan and it fits in with the masterplan for the area. People will realise it is a good development, will create a lot of jobs and purpose-built accommodation for students is really the way forward.”


But the Labour boss did acknowledge the strength of feeling against the proposals.

He added: “Some modifications on the plans need to be made.

“Historic England has objected and you can’t not listen to Historic England.

“Alumno has taken notice of that and are modifying the plans accordingly and they will come back and I still expect it to be decided upon early in the new year.

“I hope they will be approved because at the moment, it is a rubble-strewn wasteland and it detracts from the area.”

On the controversial subject of student accommodation, he added: “[They] will bring a vibrancy and life to the area which obviously currently isn’t there.”

He added: “Alumno has a great track record and I believe they will deliver a great scheme here; Firstsite will benefit and the Curzon will benefit from it.”

His comments come ahead of a rubber-stamping exercise which will see senior councillors agree to lease the land to Alumno in a long-term agreement.

Cabinet documents highlight how delays could impact on the scheme, warning of a minimum 12-month delay should Alumno pull out of the deal.

The papers also warn if planning permission is refused, an “alternative purchaser” may need to be sought.

The documents also allude to a “high level of abnormal costs” for any developer.