VACANT shops in Colchester are to be demolished and transformed into flats and commercial units after plans were given the go-ahead more than a year on.

Developers Mountcrest Group Ltd have been granted permission by Colchester Council to bulldoze 12 disused units in Priory Walk and Long Wyre Street

The two-storey buildings in the city centre will then be replaced with 19 apartments - 14 one-bedroom flats and five two-bedroom flats.

Gazette: Reimagined - Priory Walk under the new plansReimagined - Priory Walk under the new plans (Image: Inkpen Downie)


The newbuild will also boast eight “multi-purpose commercial units” and slot into the corner where Long Wyre Street meets Priory Walk, which is home to Sainsbury’s acts as a cut-through to Queen Street.

Documents seen by the Gazette reveal there will also be no on-site parking for vehicles but instead 53 cycle spaces.

City centre councillor Mark Goacher said he was “broadly supportive” of the plans.

Gazette: Positive - city centre councillor Mark GoacherPositive - city centre councillor Mark Goacher (Image: Newsquest)

“It’s an area which is crying out for regeneration, and if people are living there it may boost some of the local retail too,” he said.

“I will say it is a great shame to lose some of the charities down there in the buildings due for demolition - the Leaf Centre for example, it is a great shame to lose that.

“But looking long term, it is positive and good to see that area of the city is attracting investment.”

Planners had to go back to the drawing board after their original proposal in late 2021 was thrown out by Colchester Council.

The new proposals were revised with minor tweaks about six months after their original submission in December 2022.

Gazette: Site - Long Wyre Street in ColchesterSite - Long Wyre Street in Colchester (Image: Steve Brading)

Bosses at Mountcrest Group Ltd believe the scheme will step away from “the poor quality, retail-focused approach of the past”.

A spokesman added: “Over the past four to six years, Priory Walk and Long Wyre Street have experienced low occupancy and high changeover of retail and charity shops with very few larger units remaining commercially viable due to lack of footfall and prohibitive business rates.

“This repeat cycle has resulted in poor maintenance, antisocial behaviour - including frequent squatters - and lack of general aesthetic coherence across both streets.”

They said the development will “add to the overall quality of the area” and “set a new benchmark for future development in the city centre”.