A councillor has called for a more joined up approach to the development of Colchester's Creative Quarter, saying the council should look to a 15-year-old masterplan for the area for inspiration.

Castle ward councillor Darius Laws wants to see a more ambitious approach to the redevelopment of St Botolph's in Colchester, pointing to a blueprint drawn up by a previous developer back in 2003.

The bold plans, which covered a much larger area, included removing part of Priory Street car park, constructing both residential accommodation and a hotel, building new retail units and creating significant public open space in the town centre.

Mr Laws said: "I am not saying the masterplan was perfect, for instance it would've seen what is now 37 Queen Street knocked down.

"Retail has changed dramatically since the plan were created so more retail space might not be needed.

"But if you look at the masterplan from 2003, I cannot say what we are going to get now is an improvement.

"We really should be looking at the bigger picture and the wider public realm opportunity.

"At the moment we are in an awkward position where the council wants to develop part of the site, but we are not seeing discussions around what happens to the rest of the area."


From above shot of the 2003 masterplan

The Conservative councillor said there was an opportunity to provide large scale public open spaces, and the historic nature of the area meant it would be perfect for things like public archaeology excavations.

He added: "There has been very little development over hundreds of years so you are going to have hundreds of years of Roman history there.

"I think there could be a really big opportunities for archaeology and if we want to we could have people coming from all over the country to visit.

"These things are what makes Colchester so special."

READ MORE: Colchester cultural quarter plans are dividing opinion

Deputy leader of Colchester Council Tim Young, who has been heavily involved in the new scheme, led by developer Alumno, branded the 2003 plans "all over the place".

"Residents at the time found them acceptable, but now they look really dated," he said.

Mr Young said he believes Alumno's plans, which include 340 student rooms, a performance space, two new public places, an 87-bed Travelodge and a number of retail units, were much preferable to the "high-rise" designs of the old scheme.

He added: "The new scheme is far cleaner and more progressive and I believe Alumno has gone out of its way to make the plans sensitive to the history of the area.

"Looking at the 2003 scheme again, I was amazed anybody thought it was acceptable because to me it looked really dated, which of course it is."

READ MORE: Colchester cultural quarter plans are 'rushed'

The Creative Quarter proposals are set to go before Colchester Council's planning committee early in 2019.