A HUGE project looking to rejuvenate an empty retail site in Colchester will help “grow the economy” and “enhance” the city, it has been claimed.  

Supermarket juggernaut Sainsbury’s is looking to completely transform the former B&Q site in Lightship Way, which has been closed since 2021.

Blueprints submitted to Colchester Council, however, show the groceries giant wants to open an Argos Local Fulfilment Centre, a discount gym and a retail business.

Documents seen by the Gazette show the Argos site could operate between 6am and 11pm for deliveries and services, but internally the site could be open for 24-hours.

The gym could also be accessible 24-hours-a-day, while the currently unknown remain unit could be permitted to open from 7am until 11pm.

The proposals also suggest 113 jobs would be created and Sainsbury’s would put in £50,000 to help Essex County Council bring up the area to an “adoptable standard”.

WSP, the consultancy service working on behalf of Sainsbury’s, has now urged Colchester Council to green-light the plans as soon as possible.

A spokesman for the firm said: “The proposal will enable the swift reoccupation of a vacant unit, bringing it back in productive economic use.

“The proposal will introduce an Argos LFC into Colchester helping to grow the economy, as well as enhance the retail and leisure offer.

“The proposal satisfies local and national policy whilst delivery significant benefits. We, therefore, urge the council to approve this application without delay.”

Sainsbury’s was first granted planning permission back in 2016 to launch a now scrapped supermarket at the site after a deal was struck with B&Q.

The company was set to take over the lease of the unit in 2019 but the DIY business signed a two-year extension, before eventually moving to Stane Retail Park.

Tim Young, councillor for Greenstead, said: “I welcome the new plans because the site has been empty for a while and it needs activity.

“I do have one or two reservations but it seems like it might work and we welcome the £50,000 because the pavements around there are dreadful.

“We were upset when B&Q left because we thought it was perfect for that area but hey, it could be worse.”