PLANS to bulldoze a former college campus in Clacton to make way for a block of 61 retirement flats will be decided by a Government inspector.

Churchill Retirement Living wants to demolish the former Colchester Institute college building in Church Road and replace it with retirement living accommodation for people aged 60 and over.

Colchester Institute said it “reluctantly” closed the facility in Clacton in 2020 due to a year-on-year reduction in students applying for places on courses and an ever-dwindling budget.

The site was repeatedly targeted by vandals earlier this year and almost every window of the four-storey structure was smashed.

It led to Tendring Council issuing enforcement action notices for the building to be boarded up.

Tendring Council had failed to decide on the application within the expected time limit, which led to the developer launching an appeal, which is due to be heard in September.

It means a decision will now be made by a planning inspector, although the council’s planning committee will decide on Tuesday whether it would have approved the application.

Despite ward councillor Paul Honeywood raising concerns over parking and the effect on highways and the living conditions of neighbours, planning officers have recommended the would-be application for approval.

A report said: “The proposal attracted objection from Essex County Council Heritage and the local highway authority.

“The former consider that the proposal would result in less than substantial harm to the conservation area, the latter that there is inadequate parking provision and circulation space.

“In addition, there would be some limited impact on the living conditions of adjoining neighbours.

“However, the proposal is acceptable in principle and there are very considerable benefits to regeneration, and in the re-use of a deteriorating brownfield site.”

The plans include a new four-storey block comprising of 44 one-bedroom and 17 two-bedroom sheltered housing apartments.

A report by the developer said: "The removal of the existing building within the site presents the opportunity for regeneration and to introduce a building which will have a positive benefit to the Clacton conservation area."