Landmark water tower sold for £330k

COLCHESTER landmark “Jumbo” was sold for £330,000 at auction yesterdayafter a bidding war broke out for the Victorian water tower. With no reserve price on the unusual lot there had been a ray of hope for a campaign group hoping to buy the 131ft building and open it to the public as a museum.

COLCHESTER landmark “Jumbo” was sold for £330,000 at auction yesterdayafter a bidding war broke out for the Victorian water tower.

With no reserve price on the unusual lot there had been a ray of hope for a campaign group hoping to buy the 131ft building and open it to the public as a museum.

But at a packed auction, at the Cumberland Hotel in London, the bids quickly rose putting Save Jumbo for Colchester out of the running.

Afterwards it emerged the new owner was Suffolk-based property developer Brian Braithwaite.


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He said he had not decided whether he would be turning the tower into a private residence although he admitted he had more bidding money had it been needed.

Mr Braithwaite now has the option to develop a luxury penthouse, for which planning permission is in place, or pursue an alternative idea.

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Brian Light, of Save Jumbo for Colchester, did not reveal how much funding it had raised but said the final bid was well above its limit.

After learning that it was to be put up for auction the group formed a trust and invited people to come forward with major contributions.

Mr Light said: “We have absolutely no regrets about having a go to raise the money in the past two-and-a-half weeks and we also had tremendous support and backing from Colchester and north east Essex Building Preservation Trust who are in the business of saving fine old buildings.

“We always knew that if a wealthy developer was determined to get it we would not be able to compete with that.

“We did not miss it by a small amount - it was well above what we could have done - it was so far above what anyone expected, it was out of our hands.”

Under the terms of the planning permission already granted, the building would have to be opened up to the public on certain days throughout the year, something the campaign group will be watching with interest in the coming months.

Jumbo has been at the centre of a seven-year battle for planning permission to transform the Victorian structure into a luxury penthouse.

But after getting consent for the work in 2001 the owners, Jumbo Colchester Ltd, decided to sell.

Planning permission still remains although consent for the works runs out at the end the year.

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