A CONFIDENTIAL report on the proposed redevelopment of Colchester's so-called cultural quarter has been made public for the first time.

Nine months ago, industry leading charity the Design Council was commissioned by developer Alumno to produce a design review of the plans, which include more than 300 student flats, an 87-bed hotel, several retail units and a range of public space.

However the details included within the firm's report were not made public until this week, after Colchester Council requested the letter be made available to residents on its planning portal.

Amongst the findings, the report suggests the student rooms proposed in Alumno's initial scheme were "very tight if they are to provide a suitable environment for living and study".

The report states: "The living environment for students across the site is important for their health and well-being, and their experience of living in Colchester.

"We suggest that the sizes of student rooms are increased, which can also help to provide the opportunity for changes of uses in the future.

"This may require a reduction in the amount of the student rooms on the site, or potentially increasing the height of the parts of the building to help redistribute the internal spaces.

"We therefore still have unresolved concerns on this matter."

READ MORE: Ex-planning boss blasts ‘tokenistic’ changes to Alumno's Colchester plans

Just before the turn of the year, Alumno submitted fresh plans for the St Botolph's area, which lowered the number of student rooms from 340 to 336.

The latest designs have also upped the size of the gap between the new buildings and the existing Roman Wall and worked to create a more varied skyline.

In its report the Design Council praised the potential benefits the scheme could bring to Colchester.

The report states: "This scheme presents an opportunity to create a vibrant and exciting cultural quarter for Colchester that helps in integrating the historic and modern parts of the town.

"We support the principle of a new hotel and student accommodation on this site."

A Colchester Council spokesperson said the details had been made public in the interests of transparency.

He added: “The applicant commissioned the Design Council to undertake a design review in May 2018, to help inform their emerging proposals for the scheme.

"The subsequent report was presented to the applicant confidentially and later referred to in both their and Historic England’s submissions.

“We raised concerns with the applicant’s agent that they should not be able to refer to a report which was not also in the public domain, and requested that it be made public – hence its inclusion on the planning website.

"It should be noted, however, that the report in question refers to an earlier version of the scheme, which has since evolved in response to the report and other comments submitted during the intervening period.”

Colchester Council's planning committee will have the final say on the plans.