A SUCCESSFUL project to build a community amongst Colchester’s independent traders has been put on hold until it receives more backing from the powers that be.

The South Lanes Project, which covers the area from Sir Isaac’s Walk to Eld Lane across Trinity Street and Scheregate Steps, was set up last March by a group of like-minded retailers.

It experienced almost immediate success, being nominated for the Rising Star award in the Great British High Street Awards.

Founder, business consultant Neil Gibb, says they’ve now been forced to put a pause on the project until they receive support from Colchester Council and Our Colchester Business Improvement District.

The group is calling for the South Lanes to be recognised as an official location in Colchester, new signage and funding.

Mr Gibb said: “The great thing about this project is even if nothing else happens an incredible community has been created and a whole load of little projects have been started.

"A lot of the shops have transformed themselves to be more socially orientated.

"We have connected with Ipswich and Chelmsford and we’ve had requests from other towns to go over and help them run similar projects.

"It has been a wild ride and thank you all.

"If you want to do something, lobby your councillors - there is an election coming up.”

A spokesman for Colchester Council said it was disappointed the project was now on hold.

He said: “We have met with members of the project on several occasions, offering to fund street bunting and improvements to the visual appearance of premises, as well as endorsing the project during the judging stages of the Great British High Street awards last year.

"We are committed to working collaboratively with our key local partners to help deliver a boost to the town centre public realm.”

A spokesman for the BID added: "Our Colchester Business Improvement District has an independent business focus group which looks at different creative ideas that could be implemented across Colchester town centre and that might help support the Independent sector. 

"Those involved in the South Lanes Project have been invited to attend in the past and will continue to be invited as our independent businesses are a real point of difference in our town”