RESIDENTS are calling for a greater variety of shops to open in Colchester, but business bosses say the city centre is "vibrant and growing".

Within the last year, several new ventures have launched in Colchester and welcoming in shoppers - from independent start-ups to more well-known names.

Popular eateries such as Brim Burgers and The Sushi Co., for example, have both joined the High Street in recent months, while Bellaze Beauty has just opened in Lion Walk.

Other existing brands, meanwhile, have enjoyed such success in the city they have expanding and moved into bigger premises, such as the iStore and Koryu.

Gazette: New - Brim Burgers is one of the latest additions to the High StreetNew - Brim Burgers is one of the latest additions to the High Street (Image: Newsquest)

But the growth doesn’t stop there, with several new chains now also looking to come and make a go of it in Colchester.

Pret A Manger is set to open in the former iStore site in Lion Walk, and Indian chai tea and street food company Chaiiwala has also submitting plans for a site in the High Street.

Colchester council leader David King said: “Colchester city centre is a vibrant and growing place.

Gazette: Pleased - Colchester Council leader David KingPleased - Colchester Council leader David King (Image: Newsquest)

“Businesses speak to each other and those deciding on coming here will be looking at footfall, those who have invested here already, income patterns and other factors.

“We also have a council and a BID that is on its game and all of that makes it easier for the next business to see the scope of coming here.”

However, some residents have said they want to see more variety in the types of brands coming to the city. Specifically, they want less food outlets.

Alan Harvey added: “When will we get some proper shops open, instead of cafés and restaurants?

“It is overflowing with places to eat.”

Tonya Foord-Brown, meanwhile, feels there needs to be more for youngsters and families to do in the city centre.

She said: “I think the choices of food are great, but there is nothing that makes me want to go to the city centre with my children.

“Nothing fun, barely any actual shops and unless we want to go to the cinema, we would go elsewhere.”

Gazette: Welcome - the Sushi Co, which has recently joined the High StreetWelcome - the Sushi Co, which has recently joined the High Street (Image: Newsquest)

Despite these concerns, Colchester BID and Colchester Council's commitment to establishing the city as must-visit leisure and hospitality destination appears to be paying dividends. 

By the end of 2023, for example, the number of vacant units in the city centre had decreased to 8.61 per cent.

This is down from during the pandemic in 2020 and from the beginning of 2023.

Mr King added: “We would welcome more retail and more independent shops.

“It’s a case-by-case basis and there is no question about the online shift.

“We have to acknowledge we have three centres, Stanway, Northern Gateway and the city centre itself.

“But the bottom line is we will continue to have a rich mixture in the city centre, offering places where people can meet up, socialise, go to the theatre, eat and drink and more."