It's D-day for the Us

COLCHESTER United's chief executive has warned East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town that approval for a new £10 million stadium set to be granted tonightcould herald "Premiership - here we come" for the Essex club.

COLCHESTER United's chief executive has warned East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town that approval for a new £10 million stadium set to be granted tonightcould herald "Premiership - here we come" for the Essex club.

Marie Partner said the imminent end to a 30-year saga to find new facilities for the town's football club would secure the U's future for years to come.

Ms Partner said she was "extremely excited" about tonight's meeting of Colchester Borough Council's planning committee, at which council officers will advise members are set to approve the new 10,000-seater community stadium scheme at Cuckoo Farm,

The 250-acre development on land to the north of the town and on the site of the Severalls Hospital development has been debated for years.


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Six planning applications for the key developments were submitted last October and included, a Colchester United Community Stadium; the Cuckoo Farm and Severalls Hospital residential development and the third and final phase of the Northern Approach Road; a new A12 junction and a business area east of Cuckoo Farm.

Other features include a new primary school, a hotel and a police station.

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Ms Partner said: "We are welcoming the huge chance we have to be part of one of the biggest visions this town has had.

"When we become permanent tenants at the stadium, we'll have facilities to attract a different kind of player. It will open up commercially viable propositions that we are currently restricted to here at Layer Road.

"The strength of support in the area will mean we should be able to move up divisions and soon we'll be part of Ipswich's fixture list – that is, with us gaining promotion rather than them being relegated.

"After that, the Premiership is not a million miles away is it?"

But tonight's council decision could spark off more protest from residents in the Myland parish who have called for an underpass at the junction of Mill Road and the new Northern Approaches Road. But council officers have turned these down.

The plans have also dealt a blow to campaigners hoping to save the buildings on the site of Severalls Hospital - although English Heritage is currently considering whether to issue a protection listing on the parkland, which could still jeopardise the project.

The plans in detail:

In October 2001 Colchester Borough Council and Colchester Utd applied for the £10 million stadium development. The whole project area covers 250 acres and the infrastructure will cost an estimated £18million.

The council made the road application in partnership with the Government's Health Department, which owns the defunct Severalls Hospital site. The Health Department is submitting an application for housing at the site.

The council is making sole applications for the employment park.

Stadium: A 10,000-seater stadium on arable farmland at Cuckoo Farm, between the A12 and the Severalls centre. The U's Layer Road ground is expected to be sold off for housing.

The stadium will be publicly owned and available for community events.

Road: The first phases of the Northern Approaches Road saw the new layout at Turner Rise and North Station and at Nayland Road. As part of the third phase, a new A12 interchange will be built, about a mile west of the current Ardleigh interchange, and the new road linked with the first phases.

The completed route is expected to contain a bus route.

Service Station: The BP service station on the A12 will be relocated to the new junction.

Housing: The redundant hospital site will be sold off for about 1,700 new homes, with a proportion of social housing. Some health services will remain on site.

Employment Park: A range of business units will replace the eastern end of Cuckoo Farm, south of the A12. The farmland will be transformed into a 77-acre employment park, west of the existing Colchester Business Park at Severalls. It is hoped it could create up to 3,000 new jobs in the area.

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