Row brewing in debate over town centre versus out-of-town retail developments in Colchester

Colchester High Street

Colchester High Street - Credit: Su Anderson

An alliance of businesses in central Colchester have voiced opposition to out-of-town development proposals they say could deal a “fatal” blow to the town centre.

Tollgate Partnership Limited Directors Daniel Watts and Jayne Gee on part of the site at Tollgate, S

Tollgate Partnership Limited Directors Daniel Watts and Jayne Gee on part of the site at Tollgate, Stanway, set for development. - Credit: Archant

Tollgate Partnership Ltd want to create Tollgate Village, in Stanway, including shops, restaurants and leisure facilities including a cinema, and have submitted an outline planning application to Colchester Borough Council.

But the owners of the Culver Square and the Lion Walk and Red Lion Yard shopping centres, as well as department store Williams & Griffin, are in the process of submitting detailed objections to the proposals.

They are concerned at what they say is the potentially devastating impact the Tollgate development could have on the town centre, not only taking shops, shoppers, trade and

jobs from the town centre, but also blocking investment worth tens of millions of pounds from existing firms in the town centre.

Work is well underway on this planned �30m development on Williams & Griffin, the type of investment

Work is well underway on this planned �30m development on Williams & Griffin, the type of investment town centre businesses fear will not be forthcoming if Tollgate Village gets the go-ahead. - Credit: Archant

Their concerns have also been echoed by independent retailers and the Colchester Retail/Business Association as well as Vineyard Gate Developments Ltd, a partnership between Caddick Developments and NewRiver Retail (UK) Ltd, the council’s preferred partner for the Vineyard Gate development in the town centre.


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Hugo Fenwick, owner of Williams & Griffin, said: “We learnt of the opportunistic Tollgate Retail Park planning application with dismay.

“Colchester’s culture and heritage has a very special and successful relationship with the commercial heart of the town centre, and it is absolutely vital this is protected.

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“An enormous out of town Tollgate Retail Park would fatally undermine the vibrancy and prosperity of Colchester town centre.”

Among the technical concerns raised are issues around traffic and use of strategic employment land.

As well as the Tollgate Village plans, Churchmanor Estates have been given planning permission for phase 1a and have applied for phase 1b for three restaurants on each at the edge of the existing Tollgate site.

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