Crucial talks due on community stadium

CRUCIAL talks to move forward plans for Colchester's new community stadium will take place next week.The plans, which would see part of Cuckoo Farm in north Colchester developed into the new home ground for Colchester United, have been held up by a dispute between the North Essex Mental Health Partnership Trust and Colchester Borough Council.

By Annie Davidson

CRUCIAL talks to move forward plans for Colchester's new community stadium will take place next week.

The plans, which would see part of Cuckoo Farm in north Colchester developed into the new home ground for Colchester United, have been held up by a dispute between the North Essex Mental Health Partnership Trust and Colchester Borough Council.

The trust - which owns part of the land involved - has to date failed to sign an amendment to a traffic agreement on the planning consent.


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The EADT revealed last month that after agreeing in December to sign the papers the trust did nothing until early March when it requested more transportation advice.

Dave Murthwaite, chairman of the stadium's shadow board, warned at the time that if the papers were not signed quickly it could mean Colchester United would not move to the its new home from its current Layer Road ground in time for the targeted 2008-9 season.

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Yesterday Robert Davidson, leader of Colchester Borough Council, said the agreement was still yet to be signed.

He will be meeting the chief executive and chairman of the mental health trust on Tuesday to discuss the deadlock.

Mr Davidson said yesterday: “We have agreed that the extra traffic modelling survey can be done and we are expecting the results in 10 days' time.

“We have got a meeting with the health trust next week to press on them the urgency and impact of these delayed statements.

“There is no disagreement apart from the fact we believed in December we had an agreement on the table with the legal teams and themselves and then it wasn't signed. It is frustrating. For the last few months we believed we were making good progress.”

A spokeswoman for North Essex Mental Health Partnership Trust said yesterday: “English Partnerships (which owns another section of the land) and the trust fully support the stadium and look forward to its construction.

“All planning consent agreements were signed by all parties including Colchester Borough Council last year.

“We have a public duty to give the recent variation (the traffic amendment) by Colchester Borough Council proper consideration. However we do not believe that this work will affect the construction of the stadium.

“We need to ensure that people living in Colchester and north east Essex get the best deal from the sale of Severalls.

“Proceeds from the sale will be used to improve local mental health care. It is important that this variation does not affect the value of the site and consequently the levels of future investment in NHS services for local people.

“The matter remains a top priority for us and will be completed shortly.”

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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