Call for inquiry into town regeneration

By Annie DavidsonA CALL has been made for a public inquiry into a multi-million-pound plan to regenerate part of a town.A major scheme to revitalise the eastern area of Colchester with a visual arts facility, retail development, improved public transport facilities and a new magistrates' court is currently in the planning stages.

By Annie Davidson

A CALL has been made for a public inquiry into a multi-million-pound plan to regenerate part of a town.

A major scheme to revitalise the eastern area of Colchester with a visual arts facility, retail development, improved public transport facilities and a new magistrates' court is currently in the planning stages.

But John Barnard, the countryside officer for the Essex Ramblers' Association, has criticised the plan, particularly the proposed magistrates' court.


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He urged the Government to hold a public consultation into the proposals for the St Botolph's area to ensure the public's views were considered.

The state-of-the-art magistrates' court would be built partly on the current site of the St Botolph's railway station car park, which could be replaced with a multi-storey car park.

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Mr Barnard, of Harvesters Way, Great Tey, said: “My comment on this application is that it takes up most of the station forecourt, leaving totally inadequate provision for public access to the railway station on foot, or by car, bus, or taxi.”

He also felt the application was premature because the St Botolph's project had not been included in the Colchester Local Plan, which was due to be finalised by the borough council next month.

“I feel there was totally inadequate informal consultation on the regeneration scheme consultant's draft master plan,” added Mr Barnard.

He claimed Colchester Borough Council's regeneration team was preparing a modification of development master plan to incorporate the public's comments and feedback from statutory organisations.

Mr Barnard claimed that would then be adopted by the council with no further public consultation.

“Since the August 2003 closure date for the initial consultation there has been a public outcry against many of the proposals, but particularly the proposal to demolish the bus station to provide a site for a new visual arts facility,” he said.

“The bus station will be replaced by a inadequate bus interchange facility in Osborne Street.

“In view of the great public concern at the loss of a valued public amenity, can East of England GO-East please call this project in and hold a public inquiry so that the public concerns get a proper hearing.”

A spokeswoman for Colchester Borough Council said it was in the process of considering all the comments made as part of the planning consultation process.

“We will be looking at the comments and considering them as part of the process,” she added.

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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