COLCHESTER Council will receive a one-off payment of £980,881 for a 250-year lease if Alumno’s proposed redevelopment of the town’s Cultural Quarter goes ahead, it has been revealed.

After pressure from campaigners, the authority has released details of the pre-lease agreement between the two parties.

It was agreed before the council’s planning committee rejected the plans in February this year.

Under the agreement, there are two leases between the parties - one for the student rooms site, where 336-flats were planned, and one for the site of the 87-bed Travelodge hotel.

The lease period for both is 250 years and the council would receive £980,881 for both, equivalent to £3,923 per year.

Council bosses say this money would be used to invest in services and initiatives for the borough and Alumno’s £40 million development, which is subject to a planning appeal, would also have brought jobs and other benefits to the town.

Despite the planning committe’s refusal. the contract will remain in place unless appeals are “refused at every stage of the planning process”.

Last month, it was announced Alumno had appealed the committee’s refusal to the Secretary of State, with a planning inquiry set to take place in October.

Colchester Council, which will defend its decision at appeal, says the only way it can withdraw or terminate the lease agreement without consequences is if the developer was found in breach of the contract or became insolvent.

David King, councillor responsible for rescources, said: “We have an important balance to strike and must do so without prejudice to the appeals process.

“We will honour our agreement with Alumno, if it is successful, mindful of the benefits and income that brings.

“We have already invested millions in St Botolph’s Quarter, but we respect the different views on the merits of this scheme.

“We will provide transparency, to be as open as possible about the agreement with Alumno so everyone has the facts before we go into the planning inquiry.

“Due to commercial sensitivities, we can’t publish the whole agreement, but we want to answer the key questions people have raised.

“The agreement will be held pending the appeal and throughout the inquiry the council will, as is again our duty, vigorously and fully support the decision of our planning committee.”