Deal could see new development in town

A COMPLEX land deal could pave the way for a "cultural corridor" in Colchester stretching from its historic Norman castle down to St Botolph's roundabout.

By Roddy Ashworth

A COMPLEX land deal could pave the way for a "cultural corridor" in Colchester stretching from its historic Norman castle down to St Botolph's roundabout.

And the move could also see a major development on Vineyard Street car park for use by a prestigious, national retail group.

The town's ruling cabinet has already authorised a £1million payout to secure two properties in Queen Street which would form the entrance site for a brand new art gallery.


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The properties were previously bought by a retail group at auction where Colchester Borough Council's bid for the buildings failed.

But although the land was technically zoned for commercial use, concerns were expressed by English Heritage that retail development could have a detrimental environmental impact.

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Now the council and the retail group are negotiating a "land swap" which could see the Queens Street buildings given over for public use.

Meanwhile separate property owned by the council in the Osborne Street and Vineyard Street area would be handed over to the retail group.

It is hoped the borough could then form a partnership with the group to redevelop the area.

The deal would allow a "cultural corridor" to run from the castle, via Hollytrees Museum, the Minories, the new visual art gallery and St Botolph's Priory, to Colchester Town station.

The cabinet has been keen to push ahead with plans for the new art gallery which it is already committed to funding to the tune of around £1m.

Other, substantial funds for the new building – including millions of pounds from the lottery, the county council and the Eastern Development Agency – are time limited and could be withdrawn if progress with the project is too slow.

Last night, John Jowers, leader of the Conservative group and Colchester Borough Council cabinet member, refused to comment on any specific details. But he said: Any such plans would be in broad line with the strategic policy of the council."

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