DIVISIVE plans for 270 student flats to be built on the banks of the River Colne have been approved by Colchester Council.

Developer Beyond the Box had originally put forward proposals for 300 student apartments in the Hythe last summer, but reduced the scheme amid backlash.

The blueprints were also cut down by two storeys in a bid to tackle issues with light access and remedy issues raised by residents.

On Thursday, Colchester Council’s planning committee gave the applicant the green light to get spades in the ground.

Planning officers told the meeting key benefits of the scheme would include investment in rebuilding a sea wall and the clearing of rubbish from the Colne.

Gazette: Vision - a CGI image of the siteVision - a CGI image of the site

The flats will feature communal and individual kitchens, en-suite shower rooms, a cinema room, a gym and games and leisure space.

Further adjustments made will also see the accommodation provide larger communal kitchens, increased laundry space and an “improved layout” for cycle parking and maintenance space.

Beyond the Box said moving the buildings away from the adjacent road had allowed for space for an additional delivery bay for student pick up and drop off, as well as an overspill parking bay.

But not all residents were pleased with the scheme, with the landlord of the neighbouring Spinnaker Inn, Rob Isbister, labelling the scheme an “oversized monstrosity”.

Another objector, who is among more than 100 others, told Colchester Council the flats will “block out all natural light to an important community pub”.

Gazette: Impressed - councillor Adam Fox said the developer had acted upon concerns raised by residentsImpressed - councillor Adam Fox said the developer had acted upon concerns raised by residents

“The pub’s sun terrace will be in perpetual darkness, meaning the loss of its only true outside space and ruining it for anyone in the area who wants to use such an important community asset,” they added.

Beyond the Box officer James Ryan told the meeting the accommodation has been split to allow the view to remain from the Spinnaker.

Old Heath and the Hythe councillor Adam Fox added he believes the applicant has gone a “significant way” to addressing issues raised by residents.

He said: “This is an unsightly and contaminated piece of land which detracts from the area. Local residents usually say they want brownfield building before greenfield and this delivers that.”