Town centre businesses celebrate £500m investment in Colchester

Town Centre First exhibition, High Street, Colchester

Town Centre First exhibition, High Street, Colchester - Credit: Archant

A consortium of Colchester groups is aiming to show people how more than £500million of investment is being spent in the town centre.

Carl Milton, managing director of Williams & Griffin, with David Robertson, Culver Square centre man

Carl Milton, managing director of Williams & Griffin, with David Robertson, Culver Square centre manager, at the Town Centre First exhibition - Credit: Archant

An exhibition has opened up on the High Street from today for two weeks to show people the “big picture” of improvements.

It has been brought together by the Colchester Town Centre Team, a group of town centre businesses including Williams & Griffin, Culver Square and Lion Walk shopping centres and the Colchester Retail/Business Association (CORBA), as well as organisations and public bodies including Colchester Borough Council.

The exhibition highlights what has happened, such as the Colchester Castle revamp, things that are happening now including the ongoing Williams & Griffin £38m refurbishment, and what is planned in the town centre – including a Primark coming to town by Christmas 2016.

David Robertson, centre manager at Culver Square, said: “The main reason for this is getting some pride back in Colchester.

“It’s the independents who make Colchester unique, but we have got marketing budgets and support behind us – it’s about us supporting them because if they are successful, we are successful.

“People are looking at Colchester and thinking it is worth investing in.

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“Big projects such as Williams & Griffin are perhaps more noticeable, but there has been a lot of smaller investment.

“All of these stories make up the big picture. It is about seeing it all together.”

The exhibition also showcases projects such as one being run by rail operator Abellio Greater Anglia to make a better link between the station and the town centre, through coloured lamp posts and an elephant motif.

Carl Milton, managing director of Williams & Griffin, added: “It is about contextualising it. The future viability of the town centre is not just about retail, there’s a lot more.

“There are some excellent ideas but it’s about putting it together and linking it.

“The town has a huge amount of opportunity.”

A central aim of the town team is to encourage people to stay in Colchester for two or three days, in which time they can visit the tourist attractions, shop, go to the theatre or new Curzon cinema, and take part in the night-time economy.

The team calculate that across the borough a total of £3.5billion is being invested in Colchester.

Bill Frame, borough councillor for economic development, said: “As the borough grows the town centre needs to evolve as a competitive, relevant focal point.

“Change can be difficult, but it’s also exciting.

“Supporting and protecting the development of the town centre is vital if Colchester is to continue to grow.”

People are being asked for their views through a questionnaire at the exhibition, which is in the former job centre.

It is open daily from 10am to 4pm until Sunday July 26.

People unable to visit can see a summary online where they can also give feedback, or people can email with comments.