ANGRY residents have hit out at plans to convert a set of old high-rise offices near Colchester town centre into 93 flats.

Convivia Construction Limited has applied for prior approval to change the use of part of Riverside Office Centre, in North Station Road, to homes.

If the proposals are approved Century House, Fairfax House and Digby House could be turned in 93 flats - a mix of studios, one, two and three-beds - all of which will be social housing.

But the plans have drawn significant concern from residents of the area.

Anna Bolton has written to her neighbours to raise awareness of the proposals.

She said: “This isn’t about nimbyism; I know the benefits of well run social housing schemes. But housing people in ugly, cheaply converted old office blocks isn’t the answer.

“You can see that in similar disastrous schemes across the country where the social and economic impact on both the residents and the surrounding community have been devastating.

“The site sits at the gateway to the town centre, abut the new conservation zone of North Station Road, therefore demands proper planning consultation and not simply fast tracked through this government permitted development scheme.

“It can be blocked using an ‘article 4 direction’ by the council if they choose to use it.

“The application should at least go to a planning committee stage where residents can speak and further debate can take place. Why can’t we think bigger, better and more long term for this prime town centre site?”

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Stephen Graham said the area had huge potential to be a “real asset to the town”. He said: “The plans for this important site, right next to the river offer no discernible benefits to the local area or the residents.

“The narrow streets around the entrance to the site already suffer from congestion, illegal parking and dangerous driving from the daily over sized service vehicles and delivery drivers using the site.”

Andrew Chenery added: “As this development most definitely will have an adverse effect on the local area, I feel very strongly that it should be taken out of the permitted development scheme and subjected to the full planning process.”

Colchester High Steward Sir Bob Russell is helping residents with their campaign.

He said: “I think the main point of concern for me is the management of the development.

“The potential of things going wrong will be picked up by the public purse, the same public purse which no doubt will be contributing towards the rents to be paid to the property speculators behind the project.”

Colchester Council will have the final say.

View the plans here.