PLANS to regenerate a site in Colchester could turn the town into a “regional centre of excellence” for healthcare.

Colchester Council wants to create the Northern Gateway South on the area of land south of Axial Way.

The bid includes outline permission for up to 350 homes, 300 older people’s homes, a potential health campus, a medical centre and a private acute surgical hospital.

There will also be a 75-bed care home, 55,724sqm of office space, retail space and land for a restaurant or café.

As part of the mixed-use development, the council is also asking for detailed permission for a renewable energy centre, pedestrian and cycle route and vehicle access.

An economic impact assessment submitted as part of the application suggested the plans could save the NHS as much as £90,200 per year in hospital in-patient admissions.

It adds the new health facilities on site could help create “substantial health cluster” in the north of the town alongside services at Colchester Hospital.

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The report said: “Colchester and in particular the Northern Gateway would seem an obvious location at which to grow and develop the sector in to a regional centre of excellence, potentially in the way that medical and medical research specialisms have developed around Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for example or the pharmaceutical sector around Stevenage.

“With almost 14,000 people already employed, and numerous health and care sub sectors represented, the potential exists to facilitate further sectoral growth and development that current scale of activity provides.”

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In the planning documents, it is acknowledged the bid conflicts with some planning policy.

The scheme is claimed to have scope to create as many as 2,600 full time jobs in the area.

Nick Barlow, Colchester Council’s commercial services boss, said: “The submission of this planning application is a significant milestone for the Northern Gateway. Interest, particularly in the new commercial spaces, has already been strong with several inquiries following the consultation from local, regional and national businesses, across a variety of sectors.

“The scheme will also aim to provide world-class digital connectivity, plus instant access to the regional transport network showcasing high-quality contemporary urban design.”