Developers reveal early concept plans for Colchester town centre regeneration scheme
- Credit: Archant
Early concept plans for a major regeneration scheme to transform Colchester’s historic town centre have been revealed.
The Vineyard Gate project – which has been a hot topic among local authorities for a number of years – is designed to bring a boost to both jobs and housing in the area.
Colchester Borough Council appointed GT3 Architects in February to undertake plans for a mixed-use scheme on the 2.5-acre site currently occupied by the Vineyard Gate car park and a number of surrounding properties.
The new scheme is set to combine residential, commercial, leisure and boutique retail uses, drawing residents and visitors into the town centre from Osbourne Street and Eld Lane.
Other key aspects of the proposal include exposing and illuminating the Roman Wall and reinstating the old Vineyard Street.
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Paul Smith, leader of Colchester Council, said he was thrilled the project would focus on improving housing conditions and boosting opportunities for local businesses.
He said: “It will tidy up an area that has become a bit of an eyesore.
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“I am particularly impressed at the fact they are looking at boutique retail.
“This will be a good opportunity for start-up businesses.”
Mr Smith added that certain aspects of the plans worked well to unite the modern development with key aspects of the town’s 2,000-year heritage – as a bastion in the Roman Wall previously concealed by houses will be exposed for the public to admire.
Tim Young, Colchester Council portfolio holder for business and culture, added: “This imaginative new proposal will regenerate this site, bringing new jobs and homes to the local area, and continue the transformation of St Botolph’s and the town centre.”
The project was first put forward more than 10 years ago.
It has since faced a series of major setbacks, including the recession, the withdrawal of Caddicks as the council’s development partner from the scheme, and the decision by Primark to use the former BHS store for its new Colchester outlet – instead of acting as a top name to draw in potential tenants to Vineyard Gate.
Director of GT3, Simon Dunstan, added: “The comprehensive redevelopment of Vineyard Gate will create a contemporary, mixed-use destination with strong physical and historical connections with the town centre and adjoining developments.
“Combining a wide range of uses, spaces and activities, the development will create a unique, new neighbourhood with a strong sense of community and identity and, in so doing, attract investment and act as a catalyst for future regeneration in the area.”