Bid lodged for up to £25m of funding for town improvements

Colchester High Street Picture: ARCHANT

Colchester High Street Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A bid to unlock up to £25 million of investment for ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ improvements in Colchester has been lodged with the government.

Colchester’s multimillion-pound Town Deal bid includes plans to restore its oldest surviving building, create a digital skills hub and transform community facilities in the Greenstead area.

The town was among 101 chosen at the beginning of the year to apply for the funding.

Ideas have since been submitted for the ‘We Are Colchester’ board to develop into projects under the broad themes of how we ‘live, grow, and connect’.

Board chairman and local businessman, Simon Blaxill said: “The list of projects chosen will make a long lasting, positive difference to our town.

“They will promote skills development, create jobs for local people, make our communities more attractive and with better facilities.

“The Town Deal provides Colchester with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make our town an even better place to live, work and visit.”

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We Are Colchester was formed as a partnership between public, private and voluntary organisations in January 2020.

The list of projects proposed in the bid include a digital skills hub at the Wilson Marriage Centre, restoration of Holy Trinity Church and the first phase of restoring the ‘Jumbo’ water tower, the accelerated introduction of 5G mobile network technology, improved walking and cycling links, and the transformation of facilities for young people.

Last month, We Are Colchester received £1m to spend on the first phases of two public realm schemes at St Nicholas Square and Balkerne Gate.

It expects to hear before February if it has been successful in getting all or part of the £25m.

David King, Colchester’s head of business and resources, who also chairs the We Are Colchester advisory group, said the bid would enable big improvements across town, adding: “Our public consultations showed that people want Colchester to be ‘greener’, to provide greater opportunities for young people and to make it easier for people to walk and cycle.

“Local people want the town to be made more attractive and for improvements to be made to infrastructure. The projects that We Are Colchester have submitted to the government address all these issues.”

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