Colchester: Hope land deal will lead to town centre regeneration

Queen Street bus station as it was

Queen Street bus station as it was

Councillors hope a deal to purchase land in the centre of Colchester will breath new life into plans to the regenerate the area.

On Wednesday night members of Colchester Borough Council’s cabinet agreed in principle to buy a bus depot site in Queen Street from bus operator First Bus for an undisclosed fee. They also signed off plans to lease land for a new bus depot to the operator based at Haven Road in the Hythe area of town and to let a council-owned property on St Botolph’s Street to the company, with a view to it becoming a ticket office.

According to the council’s portfolio-holder for regeneration, Nick Barlow, the agreement will allow First Bus to move their bus depot to a location away from the town centre and will enable the company to operate more efficiently.

And by purchasing its old bus depot, the council hopes to facilitate further development of the area known as St Botolph’s Quarter.

Mr Barlow said because the council already owns a number of premises adjacent to the old depot, this agreement should allow it to go to developers as a substantial piece of land.

He said: “We have spoken to developers and one of the problems they face is obtaining the land they need which is often owned by a number of different parties. In this case, they only need to deal with us.

“The purchase has been assessed by experts who say we have a good deal and we hope to sell the land at a profit to the taxpayer.”

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He said the council wants to attract developers who will build commercial facilities for the creative sector, which it is hoped will complement existing buildings such as the Firstsite arts centre.

If the venture takes off, the council estimates up to 250 new jobs could be created.