Plans to develop one of Colchester’s most iconic structures are on hold after it failed to attract funding.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Jumbo water tower in Colchester. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Jumbo water tower in Colchester. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Conservationists are rethinking their plans for the Grade II* listed Balkerne Water Tower, better known locally as Jumbo, after they were unable to win funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Proposals for the 19th century structure, devised by North Essex Heritage, included the creation of a heritage centre, gift shop and restaurant in the structure which has laid empty for 30 years.

A new floor would have been created in the building and the engineer’s room and water tank would have been converted. It had been hoped that the renovation would be complete by 2022.

The grant would have helped the plans for the structure to be fully developed but now they have had to be put on hold as the lack of HLF funding will cause problems in other areas.

Simon Hall, from North Essex Heritage, said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the decision.

He said: “North Essex Heritage, formerly Colchester & North East Essex Building Preservation Trust, had hoped to rescue the Grade ll* industrial building which has been vacant for 30 years.

“The Trust had already secured funding pledges from other organisations and these were dependant on the project winning Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) backing.

“The competition for priority funding was substantial, available funding is reduced and demand was increased.

“The HLF funding would have allowed us to progress our plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date and give a new lease of life to this important industrial landmark which has been on the national Buildings at Risk register since 1993.

“The Trust will now consider its next steps.”

Councillor Tim Young, Colchester Borough Council’s portfolio holder for business and culture, said: “Obviously Jumbo is an iconic landmark building in Colchester and we were very hopeful as it met all the criteria.

“We will have to get people round the table to think again because it really is a hammer blow.

“We’ve got to find a sustainable future for Jumbo and we need to get our heads together to think what that could be. We can’t let it go to rack and ruin and decay.”