MORE of Colchester town centre should be designated as a cultural destination in a bid to protect it from unsuitable development, it has been claimed.

Arts aficionado Dorian Kelly asked Colchester Council's cabinet to re-examine the existing area covered by the "Cultural Quarter" tag in the authority's Local Plan.

Pointing to the abundance of cultural assets in the town which were outside of the designated area, which surrounds Firstsite gallery, Mr Kelly said the town was basically "one big cultural quarter".

He said: "Normally when you talk about the cultural quarter you're talking about the area bounded by Firstsite, The Minories, Curzon, the Roman Wall and this is correct.

"But others would say the cultural quarter is actually the other end of town around The Mercury, Jumbo, Balkerne Gate, the arts centre and they would be right too.

"Others would say we have got a museum quarter, a wonderful park and these are cultural destinations, which of course they are.

"We have the wonderful Roman Wall, St Botolph's Priory, we have St John's Green - in fact Colchester is basically one big cultural quarter."

Mr Kelly said re-examining the wording of the Local Plan designation and expanding the area to within the Roman Wall would give extra protection to the historic town centre from development such as Alumno's stalled student rooms development.

He added: "The council should work carefully to take out any words which could encourage people to put in unsympathetic developments against which you have little defence under the presumption of approval.

"This will ensure never again can you be held, as you have been and we all have been, effectively to ransom by the National Planning Policy, by removing words like student accommodation and other similar things from the designation."

Julie Young, deputy leader of the council and Local Plan spokesman, said she had met with Mr Kelly to discuss his ideas.

"One of the alliance's priorities is about creating a new town centre masterplan which is a piece of work we will be doing in the course of the year hopefully," she said.

"We are going through a process with the Local Plan and we will take into account your comments."