OPPOSITION has erupted to plans for 76 flats and a gym within Colchester’s so-called Cultural Quarter.

If approved, the plans will seek to dramatically overhaul Priory Walk, Long Wyre Street and Queen Street as the main focuses for the build, with a gym being built in Queen Street.

Three applications submitted to Colchester Council’s planning committee aiming to revitalise the area could see vacant shops demolished to make way for the new living space, retail units and a gym.


The current two-storey buildings would then be replaced by the installation of three differing three and four-storey constructions consisting of 21, 18 and 37 new apartments.

A new retail unit will also be installed at the north side of the junction of Priory Walk and Long Wyre Street.

To make way for the gym, the subdivisions between the former Superdrug and the Peacocks premises will be removed to form a larger, single space.

Read more: 21 flats planned for disused shops in Colchester town centre

The planning report for the 37-apartment build reads: “Strategically we see this section of Priory Walk as a pivotal opportunity to set a new standard for the redevelopment of this area by lifting the quality of architectural design and materials.

“We felt it should step away from the 1980s pastiche and step forward to provide some considered elegant contemporary architecture better suited to a city environment than a small town.”


However, campaigners have lambasted the plans they claim are being stealthily submitted separately, rather than being presented as one whole scheme.

Robert Mercer, of Colchester Civic Society, said people should not be fooled by the different applications.

He added: “What is deeply upsetting is the total failure to present an overall schematic of the development as a whole.

“Is it because we might all realise just how dominating and dramatic a change this might introduce?”

Arts expert and Cultural Quarter campaigner Dorian Kelly added: “Who knows what will happen to Sainsbury’s if these plans go ahead?

“I can’t see them putting up with the rubble and dust and with customers having to access them through the hoarding - it would be terrible for business.

“If they moved it would be an economic disaster for Colchester.”