Colchester: Park and ride plans a step closer

A LONG-AWAITED park and ride in Colchester will be a step closer to becoming a reality if a planning application for the scheme is submitted this week as expected.

Chelmsford has a park and ride at Sandon and is due to open a second, the new Chelmer Valley service, in April, while the bigger Colchester does not yet have any.

Colchester MP Bob Russell has claimed that this gives a “clear commercial advantage” to Chelmsford over its Essex neighbour.

He added: “The situation is made even worse because Suffolk County Council has provided three park and ride sites in Ipswich, which is even more of a rival to Colchester in terms of shopping than Chelmsford.”

A planning application for the first purpose built park and ride in Colchester is expected to be submitted to Essex County Council’s planning department imminently and could see the service come into operation in 2012.

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The site will be based in the north of the town at Cuckoo Farm and accessed from the new A12 Junction 28 which was opened at the end of last year.

The scheme is estimated to cost more than �3 million and will include parking for up to 1,000 cars, a terminal building and new bus priority measures along the route.

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Anne Turrell, leader of Colchester Borough Council and Mile End councillor, said the proposal had been on the cards for a long time.

“This issue has been made a priority for Essex County Council, but I would rather it took a bit longer and they got it right than have problems arise further down the line,” she said.

“I have no doubt that it will make a big difference to the town. Since the new A12 junction has opened there has been a significant reduction in traffic in Mile End.

“It follows on from that that a park and ride would further reduce congestion in Mile End, Highwoods and across the whole town.”

Essex’s first park and ride opened in 2006 at Sandon, off the A12, to serve Chelmsford and has been widely regarded as a success.

However, the county council was considering closing the service on Saturdays, which costs about �85,000 a year to run, because it said it was underused.

An agreement has now been reached which will see Chelmsford Council share the operational cost of the Saturday service with Essex at Sandon and the new Chelmer Valley site.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “The park and ride in Chelmsford has proved to be very popular with residents, which is why the Chelmer Village Park and Ride is due to open shortly.

“Essex County Council is committed to providing a park and ride service in Colchester.”

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