A CONSERVATION group has hit out at £3.5 million proposals to revamp one of the busiest roundabouts in Colchester.

Colchester Civic Society has called for a major rethink from Essex Highways over its plans for St Botolph’s Circus, which will see the removal of the underpass, the simplification of junctions and new landscaping.

The group claims the existing proposals will do “little or nothing” to help drivers or cyclists and access for pedestrians would be made worse.

A spokesman said: “The current proposal, by Essex Highways’ own admission, is a short to medium term change which will cause major disruption to a key part of the town’s road network while the work is carried out.

“We would like to see a rethink in which Colchester Council is given the opportunity to become involved in order to seek changes which will enhance the area as well as deal effectively with the needs of pedestrians and cyclists and provide a long term solution to traffic flow.”

“We feel the highway authority should not have left it so long before producing this scheme, given the money will have to be paid back to the developers next year if it is not allocated by then.”

The group expressed its support for a more significant and expensive scheme including a plaza area, segregated cycle lanes and new trees at a meeting with county councillor Lee Scordis.

Mr Scordis said in a poll of more than 400 residents, 88 per cent of voters preferred the plaza masterplan.

He said: “It would cost much more but the current plans are being paid for with section 106 money from the Garrison development and do not cost Essex Highways anything.

“If £10 million can be found for Ipswich Road then money can be found for this.

“I have asked for a meeting with the civic society so we can discuss how best to move forward for Colchester.”

A spokesman for Essex Highways said it welcomed all comments on its plans and the ongoing consultation would shape the final scheme.

He said: “We believe that proposed changes, which can be modified if appropriate, will provide significant benefits for road users across Colchester.

“The proposed new layout will enable future improvements around the town centre if and when further funding is available.

“The current proposal should also significantly reduce congestion compared with the existing roundabout and the proposal is projected to provide sufficient traffic capacity to 2036.”

“In addition, improving traffic flow at this site will help to protect the reliability of buses and taxis and reduce congestion.”

The spokesman added a shared-use route across the roundabout would make cycling safer.