Fenwick vows to campaign for planning law changes to protect town centres as Tollgate Village gets go-ahead

Artist's impression of �70million development Tollgate Village. Picture: TOLLGATE PARTNERSHIP

Artist's impression of �70million development Tollgate Village. Picture: TOLLGATE PARTNERSHIP - Credit: Archant

A Colchester town centre firm has said it will continue to campaign for tougher criteria for out-of-town retail parks after a judge rejected its High Court challenge to block such a development.

Fenwick, along with Lion Walk Shopping Centre, had twice launched a legal challenge in a bid to halt the proposed Tollgate Village retail and leisure complex in Stanway.

Tollgate Village, a retail scheme incorporating a cinema on the former Sainsbury’s site in Stanway, has attracted much controversy since it was first put forward, with many town centre businesses saying it threatened the vitality of Colchester.

Having twice been refused planning permission by Colchester Borough Council, Tollgate Village got the go-ahead at appeal when the Secretary of State stepped in.

It then faced a High Court challenge, which was first rejected in November before a second hearing in front a specialist planning judge also threw out the appeal this week – giving the green light to Tollgate Village.

Hugo Fenwick, director of Fenwick, said: “In conjunction with Lion Walk Shopping Centre, we are pleased this matter was taken to judicial review as several aspects of the Inspector’s rationale have been found wanting.

“Although the Inspector’s judgement was not overturned on this occasion, the detailed judgement by Judge Ouseley indicated the importance of pursuing this case to the High Court as stark inconsistencies have been highlighted in the Inspector’s report.

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“Planning Policy currently excludes the need to provide evidence of occupier demand for these out-of-town centres. We will continue to support measures to amend the National Planning Policy Framework, which is currently under consultation by central government, particularly in the light of increasing over capacity in the retail and leisure market across the UK.

“We will continue to maintain that Colchester town centre will be gravely weakened if this out-of-town scheme is built out to the size envisaged in the application. Retail and leisure have a symbiotic relationship with the cultural and heritage sectors of Colchester – they both feed off each other’s success.

“It is critical Tollgate Village does not undermine this unique combination of retailers, restaurants, cafes and the cultural sector that have ensured Colchester town centre has once again become the pre-eminent destination in the region.”

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