Councillors back plans for cinema, hotel & restaurant complex on edge of Colchester

Artists' impression of the new Northern Gateway

Artists' impression of the new Northern Gateway - Credit: Archant

A bid to create a cinema, restaurant and hotel complex on the outskirts of Colchester has moved one step closer to reality.

Artists' impression of the new Active Leisure Units at Northern Gateway

Artists' impression of the new Active Leisure Units at Northern Gateway - Credit: Archant

Colchester Borough Council last night agreed to lease an 18 acre site off junction 28 of the A12 to Turnstone Colchester Limited, which will deliver a sports and leisure development.

The site, next to Colchester United’s Weston Homes Community Stadium, is known as the Northern Gateway and it already has outline planning permission for a leisure development, but a detailed application is yet to be submitted.

It is hoped the project will create 600 jobs in the town, with 230 also being created during construction.

After a bidding process, Turnstone’s lease was approved at the council’s revolving investment fund (RIF) committee meeting.


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The proposed scheme would see a 12-screen cinema with IMAX and 4DX provision over 40,000 sq ft, 12 high quality restaurants, an 80-bed hotel, 80,000 sq ft of other leisure uses, including extreme sports, and extensive landscaping of publicly accessible land, including large areas of water.

Bill Frame, portfolio holder for economic growth and planning at the borough council, said: “Granting leasehold interest in this site (leasing) to Turnstone is an extremely exciting and significant step forward in the development of the Northern Gateway.

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“It will be a real boost for economic development across the borough and will also create substantial job opportunities.

“This development will deliver a high quality, sustainable destination within the Borough to promote new sports participation and provide a regional quality leisure experience.

“It will complement the Colchester town centre offer and provide benefits for both residents and visitors alike.”

The site is situated within the council designated Northern Growth Area and benefits from the recently completed Northern Approach Road 3, named Via Urbis Romanae, from Colchester town centre.

Paul Smith, leader of the council, added: “I am extremely pleased the recommendation has been approved by the committee.

“This innovative new site complements the wider plans for the growth of new communities at sites across north Colchester.

“This development is a key example of how the council is becoming more commercially focussed in order to deliver its strategic priorities.

“The development will generate significant new income streams to help support the council to maintain its front line services, as well as providing employment opportunities.”

The council’s enthusiasm for the out-of-town development was criticised this week by developers of a smaller site outside the town in Stanway.

Churchmanor Estates is behind proposals for the £12 million Stane Park, which would see several restaurants built and more than 200 jobs created.

However, after council officers recommend the plans for refusal, Stephen Clark, managing director of Churchmanor Estates, said he was “flabbergasted” by the “inconsistency”. Claiming the councils own plans were far more damaging than his.

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