Landmark building 'out of touch'

REFUSING to build a modern landmark building in Colchester because it would not reflect its image as "Britain's oldest recorded town" would damage local investment opportunities, a senior local politician said.

REFUSING to build a modern landmark building in Colchester because it would not reflect its image as "Britain's oldest recorded town" would damage local investment opportunities, a senior local politician said.

Liberal Democrat councillor Ken Jones made his comments after a scathing attack on four architectural proposals for a new visual art gallery in Queen Street by the town's MP, fellow Lib Dem Bob Russell.

Mr Jones, the town's cabinet member for regeneration and partnerships, said that the construction of a striking, eye-catching building was essential if the private sector was to be attracted to invest in the new St Botolph's quarter redevelopment.

He is also warned that if the massive amount of lottery and Government money available to build the centre – over £10 million - was not spent on a landmark gallery, it would not be available to Colchester at all.


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"There seems to be a misconception that all this investment could be spent on something else. That is not true. It is this or nothing," Mr Jones said.

"This new arts facility will bring in between 400,000 and half a million visitors a year, to spend money in the town's restaurants, hotels and shops.

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"It has attracted internationally renowned architects to design a landmark building.

"The investment is absolutely critical to the St Botolph's regeneration scheme, which is in itself critical to all of the other regeneration schemes in the town," he added.

Mr Jones said that businesses and employers were telling the council they wanted investment in the major project and would lose faith in Colchester if it appeared to have a "small town attitude" to innovation.

"To say we shouldn't be supporting this or investing in the future of Colchester is too ludicrous for words.

"To draw the conclusion that something modern is not appropriate for Britain's oldest recorded town is not a basis for a 21st century economic development and regeneration strategy."

But last night Mr Russell branded the proposed designs "joke submissions" and said they did not fit in with the surrounding buildings.

"The German father and son's design is the only one which has made any attempt to fit in with the street scene," he said.

"I think they are a joke and I don't like people taking the mickey out of my town. I am very scathing, because Britain's oldest recorded town deserves better than that.

"I believe local architects from Essex and Suffolk could come up with something suitable for Colchester and I invite them to send in drawings so the people can have a real choice, rather than these joke submissions," he added.

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