CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop Alumno’s student flats development have been warned the developer could pursue them for costs if it wins the appeal.

The developer wants to build 336 students flats, an 87-bed Travelodge, retail units and public space in the town’s so-called Cultural Quarter, off Queen Street, Colchester.

An inquiry into the plans, which were refused by Colchester Council, is due to start next month.

The council intends to defend its position on the grounds of disabled access, overdevelopment and design issues.

But the council’s planning committee agreed it would not put forward evidence on a lack of engagement with the community, following advice from planning experts.

Hotel owners OMC Investments objected to the plans and intends to put forward evidence surrounding the lack of consultation.

Alumno’s legal team has sent a letter to Kathryn Oelman, from Lawson Planning Partners, who is acting on OMC’s behalf.

The letter from Walton and Co said: “The council has resolved this reason for refusal should be withdrawn on the basis there is no breach of the development plan or the national planning policy framework in respect of pre-application matters. The appellant and the council are, therefore, now in agreement on this point, and the issues before the inquiry would have been narrowed had it not been for your client’s position.

“The unreasonable defence of reasons for refusal that have otherwise been withdrawn by the relevant planning authority is conduct that could give rise to an award of costs should such matters result in wasted expense.”

Colchester High Steward Sir Bob Russell spoke out in support of the campaigners at a meeting of cabinet. He said: “Why is it a unanimous decision of planning committee is not getting the rigorous support, frankly it should.”