TRADERS - including big hitters such as Prezzo - have backed much-maligned plans to regenerate part of Colchester town centre... by submitting identical letters of support.

Proposals have been submitted by developer Alumno to build more than 300 student flats, an 87-bed Travelodge hotel and areas of public realm.

The plans also include a boardwalk on the northern side of the Priory Street Roman wall.

The letter, which has now been submitted 11 times - each with a different signature - states: “I support Alumno’s plans for the St Botolph’s Quarter.

“I am writing to express my support for Alumno’s proposals for the development of the St Botolph’s Quarter in the town centre.

READ MORE: Colchester Chat podcast: 'Cultural quarter plans will be better when you see them next'

“I run a local business and believe these proposals will bring a wide range of benefits to this part of Colchester.”

The letter states the plans will bring a £1.9 million boost to the Colchester economy, while it is expected a further £870,000 will come from the Travelodge build.

However, the template does contain a factual inaccuracy, stating the site has “lain dormant since 2006, when the last bus left the depot”, when in fact the former bus station did not close until six years later, in 2012.

The letter adds: “Alumno’s plans are in line with the council’s planning blueprint for the site, which has been left derelict for too long.”

As well as Prezzo, those who have put their name to the templated letter of support include Five Star Stitches, in Queen Street, Dice and Slice cafe, in Queen Street, New Image hair and beauty, Back to the 60s cafe, in Priory Walk, Day Lews Pharmacy, in Queen Street and Cash in Hand, also in Queen Street.

The 11 letters were all validated by Colchester Council on November 27 and come after a letter strongly backing the plans from Anna Harding, chief executive of Space Studios, which runs the Colchester Creative Business Centre, in Queen Street.

However, the plans have attracted widespread opposition since they were unveiled with hundreds of objections having been lodged with Colchester Council.

It was initially hoped the proposals, which are backed by the ruling cabinet, would be decided upon by planning committee members this month but a final decision is now expected early next year.