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Developer 'disappointed' at MP's last ditch bid to stop £40m new flats and hotel

PUBLISHED: 07:16 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:10 05 February 2020

Will Quince has persuaded Essex County Council to look at a covenant covering the area. Picture: House of Commons

Will Quince has persuaded Essex County Council to look at a covenant covering the area. Picture: House of Commons

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The boss of a development company has expressed his frustration after an MP launched a last ditch attempt to stop hundreds of student flats and a new hotel being built in Colchester town centre.

David Campbell, managing director of Alumno, said he was "disappointed" with MP Will Quince, who has persuaded Essex County Council to pause the development while it reconsiders a 64-year-old covenant, which governs the way Colchester Borough Council (CBC) is allowed to use the land - a former open air bus station.

The plans were approved by a government inspector after a two-week public inquiry last year.

Despite its dilapidated appearance, opponents believe the derelict site is a potentially invaluable treasure-trove of antiquarian remains, which lies off Queen Street and close to the town's Roman wall.

CBC received more than 500 objections after the plans were announced, many of which accused it of riding roughshod over the site's status as part of a "cultural quarter".

Mr Campbell said the last thing he wanted was a costly legal battle.

"We want to start work within the next three months if we can," he said.

"We really don't want further delay if it can be avoided.

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"This is a £40million scheme which through the students will bring vibrancy and energy to the town.

"We are fully committed to respecting the archaeological aspects of the area in every way, as we have with other sensitive developments. There will be a full survey and weekly inspections by the council's experts.

"I know MP Quince cares about Colchester. I know he must have his reasons.

"However, I am disappointed and surprised he did not contact us before raising the covenant issue with Essex County Council, which we were told had already been dealt with.

Mr Quince said his job was to represent the people of Colchester, not developers.

"Residents recognise that planning has been passed, and that subject to conditions, it will go ahead, but they are not happy," he said,

"I was looking at all the available options left to fight this proposal, which is what I was being asked to do.

"As far as I could see the covenant issue was only available avenue. which was the covenant which is why I went to see the leader of the county council and he paused the decision on it.

"This is the last stand for residents. This is it. There is nothing left afterwards."

An Essex County Council spokesman confirmed the covenant in Queen Street, Colchester, is currently being reviewed.

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