Fears student accommodation could 'overwhelm' town

CGI of proposed massing at Colne Quay

CGI of proposed massing at Colne Quay - Credit: Whittam Cox Architects

Fears have been voiced that hundreds of student flats proposed to be built on a former commercial harbour could “overwhelm” a town.

Colne Quay would be a 270-bed scheme in The Hythe, Colchester, according to applicants Beyond The Box.

Located between the town centre and the University of Essex Colchester Campus, the scheme would consist largely of studio apartments.

But some residents have raised concerns that the development could “overwhelm” the town, fearing a loss of privacy and daylight as a result of overshadowing from the tall buildings which are being proposed.

Colchester Borough Council’s planning committee will discuss the proposals on February 17.

One representation from a resident submitted to the council read: “I think that the proposed development is far too big and will overwhelm the area.

“The emphasis seems to be on the students and what they need, please think of us residents – we don’t want it.”

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Another representation read: “Unlike the students residing there, who will have less affinity to the area than longer term residents, these people's wishes should be of the utmost consideration when making any decisions on this proposed monstrosity.”

The application has received 62 objections, but also 53 letters in support.

According to a council report, the scheme represents a “significant investment” and lies within an area designated for redevelopment.

It said: “The site provides the opportunity to provide high quality buildings, public realm enhancements and footpath connectivity from the eastern side of the A134 to the south of the site to the Maltings and to a footbridge which crosses the river Colne to the north of the site.”

Proposals also include building a river wall. The proposed site is in flood zone 3, with zone 1 being the highest-risk category, but the report continues to state existing river defences are in good condition and do not need to be raised.

In addition to the 270 apartments, the blocks will contain internal communal areas, staff offices and associated facilities and a substation.

Works will include landscaping and changes to access and parking, the report continues.

Except for a small car tyre business on site, the land is currently vacant.