ALUMNO has won its appeal to build more than 300 student flats in Colchester’s so-called Cultural Quarter.

The developer launched the appeal, first heard in October, after Colchester Council rejected plans to build the flats off Queen Street.

After hearing the evidence at St Botolph’s Church, planning inspector Melvyn Middleton decided it was wrong for Colchester Council’s planning committee to turn down Alumno’s plans.

Alumno’s proposals are to build 336 student flats, an 87-bed Travelodge hotel, retail units and public open space on the derelict site.

In his appeal decision report, planning inspector Melvyn Middleton said: “The only harm I have identified relates to the setting of the group of listed buildings at the junction of High Street and Queen Street and this is less than substantial and towards the lower end of the scale.”

The council’s main issues with the plans were design, setting, character and accessibility.

However the planning inspector said the public benefits outweighed the risks.

He said: “The implementation of the scheme would

improve the Queen Street setting of numbers 33 to 41 and

significantly improve the setting of the fine eastern elevation of number 37 Queen Street.

“Furthermore, the introduction of a part of the Heritage Trail to the site and the provision of interpretive material would provide other benefits in the context of the understanding of the area’s heritage assets.” He said the regeneration of the site could bring in an extra £1.9 million per year.

He said: “Overall, I consider the weight that should be given to the public benefits of this proposal far outweigh the less than substantial harm to the group of heritage assets.”

The planning inspector approved the plans, but there is a list of 43 conditions Alumno must adhere to.

Alumno has also said the site is to be a vehicle free zone and the tenancy agreement would prevent students from parking a car in the town centre.

The planning inspector said said: “There is no alternative scheme at the present time and there is no certainty a different scheme would not cause the same, different or even more harm to that argued against this one.”

David King, councillor responsible for business and resources at Colchester Council, said: “We gave every support we could to our planning committee but have to proceed now as the inspector has ruled, and welcome the improvements he has recommended.

“While it’s not an ideal situation, we now have to look at

the positives of the development.

“It is a £40 million investment in the town centre that will provide a much-needed boost to the local economy, but we do also understand the disappointment that will be felt by those who desired a different result and will seek to work with the developer and others to achieve the best possible outcome in these circumstances.”

THE Inspector imposed several

planning conditions which include:

• the need to submit a scheme to

provide inclusive pedestrian access

between Priory Street and the site.

This may include a ramp or a lift but

must comply with the latest published

national standards and health and

safety measures.

• a revised scheme needs to be

submitted for public realm works to

improve Queen Street which reflects

concerns about detailed design in this


• a condition survey of the Town Wall

and remedial works to address any

damage resulting from the demolition

or construction;

• a public art feature strategy and

installation of agreed artwork;

• secure cycle parking and the

appointment of a travel plan coordinator;

• the disabled parking bay needs to be

marked out and available for use, prior

to first occupation