DESIGNS for a major new £70 million retail and leisure development have been approved by experts.

Colchester Council’s planning department has rubber stamped Tollgate Partnership Limited’s reserved matters application for its Tollgate Village development in Stanway.

The application includes further details on the make-up and look of the leisure and shopping complex, which is set to be built on vacant land opposite Tollgate Retail Park.

South of Tollgate West Road, the scheme’s leisure development will feature a multi-level pedestrian plaza, a cinema and up to nine restaurants and shops.

The cinema could offer up to 1,300 seats across up to eight screens although its operator is unknown.

Work on the two areas to the to the north of the site, which encompass the old Sainsbury’s, will include the creation of new units and improvements to Tollgate Retail Park.

The existing units on the retail park will receive a facelift, with the exception of the unit of Hughes Electrical, which could be demolished to make way for a service area.

Gazette: The layout plans for Tollgate Village The layout plans for Tollgate Village

A total of 1,523 parking spaces are planned across multi-storey and surface level car parks as well as electric charging points and cycle parking.

A planning statement reads: “The design intention for Tollgate Village is to create something different to a typical retail park, with a particular focus on pedestrian permeability.

“Through the use of varied shopfronts and a reduced scale to the elevations, the proposals aim to create a sense of the high street within the development.”

The multi-million pound development has hit a number of obstacles since plans were put forward.

They were twice refused by Colchester Council but the scheme eventually got the go-ahead when the Secretary of State granted outline planning permission in 2017.

The development then faced a High Court challenge from Fenwick, along with Lion Walk Shopping Centre, but this too was rejected in December 2017.

Reports suggested work could begin as early as next year. Planning rules state work must begin by autumn 2022.

Tollgate Partnership Limited declined to comment.