A DEVELOPER has claimed its development of 252 new student flats is a "very short distance" from Essex University... despite the properties being located almost two miles walk away.

Work has begun at Host's £16 million development at an old bus depot in Magdalen Street, Colchester.

To mark the launch of building works at the site, the developer issued a news release detailing its plans for the development.

However critics have labelled the information included in the promotional material misleading.

In release Keith Dean, of Host, said: "This development in Colchester town centre will provide a great place for students to live within a very short distance of the University of Essex, one of the top ten fastest growing universities in the UK.

"It will offer first-year students a welcoming, reassuring and stress-free start to their university life and will make a significant contribution to the economy of Colchester.”

According to Google Maps, the Magdalen Street development is 1.8 miles walk away from the University of Essex. This would take the average student 36 minutes to travel on foot.

By road the distance is more like 2.5 miles, which, in good traffic conditions, would take ten minutes by car or 17 minutes via bus.

The Magdalen Street development will open in the autumn next year and features a mix of self-contained studio apartments, en-suite bedrooms as well as communal facilities such as shared laundry rooms.

Colchester's High Steward Sir Bob Russell was a vocal critic of the development during the planning process.

He said Mr Dean's claims were incorrect and the development was not close to the university's campus.

"This development has nothing to do with the University of Essex, nor is it a short walk from the campus at Wivenhoe Park as misleadingly claimed by those promoting the accommodation," he said.

"Colchester Council sold the site of the former Council Bus Garage in Magdalen Street for student accommodation, and what we have here is a building completely out of keeping both in scale and appearance."

Host operates 42 sites across Europe and has just been named the Best Private Halls Provider for the second year in a row at the National Student Housing Awards.

The developer did not wish to comment.