A DEVELOPER has launched a bid to overturn Colchester Council’s decision to reject its controversial plans for the town’s so-called Cultural Quarter.

Alumno has written to the council outlining its intentions to appeal the planning committee’s unanimous decision to reject its proposals for land off Queen Street.

The controversial plans to build 336 student rooms, an 87-bed Travelodge hotel, retail units and public open space drew almost unprecedented opposition from the public.

Council officers recommended the plans for approval, however committee members threw out the bid on the grounds of disabled access, lack of public consultation, overdevelopment and design issues at a meeting in February.

READ MORE: Planning committee unanimously rejects Cultural Quarter plans

But the developer has announced it plans to take up the option to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

The news of a pending appeal is a blow to campaigners, who are pushing for alternative uses for the site.

READ MORE: Alumno speaks out after St Botolph's plans are rejected

Sir Bob Russell, Colchester’s High Steward, was one of dozens of outspoken opponents to the scheme.

Gazette: Sir Bob Russell says campaigners will continue to fight plansSir Bob Russell says campaigners will continue to fight plans

He said: “I think it is appalling the appeal is going to go ahead and it will be robustly opposed by everybody who is against these disgraceful plans.

“We have before us a scheme which is completely out of keeping with Colchester and the council’s own planning policy.

“The appeal will be the most extensively opposed Colchester has ever witnessed.

“The council has got itself in a right mess.

“It is now up to all of us who opposed the scheme to help fight it again.”

He added: “Alumno will leave Colchester with a bloody nose and its tail between its legs.”

Arts expert Dorian Kelly, who helped lead the campaign against the development, said the news was not unexpected.

Gazette: Dorian Kelly helped lead the campaign against the plansDorian Kelly helped lead the campaign against the plans

“It is a shrug your shoulders moment of resignation where you just say to yourself ‘here we go again’,” he said.

“It is incomprehensible the council will not fight the appeal given the strength of public opinion against the application.

“We have got a right to make representations at the inquiry and there is no time limit on submissions. If necessary we can have advice from a legal expert.

“We have some very knowledgeable objectors and lots of information to share with the inspector.”

READ MORE: Campaigners’ £2.5m plan for Colchester's Cultural Quarter

Castle ward councillor Simon Crow and many other Conservative councillors spoke out against the plans.

He said: “Obviously I am very disappointed to hear the news although it is not unexpected.

“My position has not changed and I intend to be vocally against the scheme and make my thoughts known.”

READ MORE: Call for answers over Colchester Council's contract with Alumno

A spokesman for Colchester Council confirmed Alumno had submitted “formal advanced notice” of its decision to appeal.

He said: “Once the Planning Inspectorate agrees a start date, we will notify all interested parties and advertise further information including on our website.

“The appeal will examine the reasons for refusal set out in the council’s decision notice.”

Alumno was contacted several times by the Gazette, however it did not respond at the time of going to press.