CUFC set for stadium boost

A MOVE to allow Colchester's new community stadium to be built before a major road junction looks set to be given the go-ahead by councillors early in the New Year.

By Roddy Ashworth

A MOVE to allow Colchester's new community stadium to be built before a major road junction looks set to be given the go-ahead by councillors early in the New Year.

But the bid to alter planning permission for the sports' facility is to be opposed by some people living close to it, who fear traffic and noise problems will follow.

The planning permission for the stadium currently forbids high-flying Colchester United from occupying the facility until a new junction is built on the A12 just north of the proposed site.


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The junction would allow traffic to access the stadium without having to drive through the congested heart of Colchester and, in particular, the Mile End area of the town near where the facility is set to be built.

Recently the council agreed to bankroll the building of the long-awaited stadium with up to £14.2 million of public money.

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But construction on the project has to begin soon otherwise other vital avenues of funding will close.

Although the Highways Agency has agreed to build the new junction for the A12, this will not happen in time for the proposed opening of the stadium in early 2008.

To try and allay fears about traffic problems in the Mile End area, the council is committed to creating a travel plan for the area that would minimise vehicle movements on match days.

This would include restrictions on access, parking and the encouragement of car sharing and other measures.

But yesterday Robert Johnstone, chairman of Myland Parish Council, said despite assurances he would still oppose the council's bid to open the stadium before the A12 junction was built.

“Our stated position is that we are pro-stadium, but we support the existing restrictions on it. We think the council should stick to those.”

He added that when the case is referred to the planning inspectorate, which will happen automatically as it is a departure from the adopted local plan for Colchester, he may also object.

However, yesterday Robert Davidson, leader of the borough council, said that waiting for the junction was not an option if the stadium was to be built.

“If we are going to get this stadium built we have to press ahead. One of the conditions for this will be the special travel plan.

“We are pushing to get the junction built as soon as possible but there are some things that we can't control.

“The stadium will be at minimal usage until the junction is operating, and the local residents really shouldn't be too concerned.”

Development officers have recommended that councillors approve the change of planning permission at a meeting of the borough's planning committee on January 4.

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