Colchester: Plans for arts cinema spark new proposals for town regeneration

The former First bus depot in Colchester

The former First bus depot in Colchester

Plans to bring an art house cinema to Colchester have sparked new proposals for regenerating a run-down part of the town.

Designs for a boutique cinema and restaurant in the St Botolph’s Quarter were given the green light in November. The plans, put forward by cinema company Curzon, are for the re-development of the Roman House site on Queen Street - part of an area of land owned by the council, which also includes the old First bus depot.

At the time, Colchester Borough Council had interest from three other developers, who had submitted plans to build on the whole site, but it went with the Curzon proposals because it best matched councillors’ vision for the quarter.

Now, the developers have come back with renewed plans spurred by the knowledge that Curzon has committed to the area, according to the council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, Nick Barlow.

“It is likely the Curzon cinema will attract a lot of people to that part of town - something that is desirable for other developers, “ he said.

The proposals so far include plans for a hotel, as well as residential and business developments, and the council has now to decide which ideas offer the best mix for the area.

“We already have the Firstsite arts centre nearby and have plans to build a creative business centre in the old police building, and we want any further development to complement these,” added Mr Barlow.

“It’s a development on the edge of the centre of town and we want to create a sense of community there - not just sell it to developers and forget about it.”

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Mr Barlow said further details of what was being proposed for the St Botolph’s Quarter would be made available over the next few months and he said he hoped the issue would be discussed at a council cabinet meeting in March