Lesiure boost for town

COLCHESTER has been highlighted as one of the best places in the country for new leisure developments after latest figures show the town centre’s eating and drinking market is worth �240 million.

The report puts Colchester ahead of other town centres in the region such as Ipswich, which has an eating and drinking economy worth �230m, Southend which stands at �180m and Chelmsford which is �170m.

Nick Barlow, who is the councillor responsible for tourism on Colchester Borough Council, said: “This report highlights another economic strand of Colchester’s strong competitive position in the region. Leisure time is increasingly important to people and it is important that they have a choice of quality places to spend their time and hard-earned money.

“Colchester’s great range of places to eat and drink makes a significant contribution to the quality of life here and will help to make Colchester a destination of choice to live, work and visit.”

The figures were published by the research consultancy CACI in its ‘Place Settings’ survey which ranks different places and highlights their potential for development in the eating and drinking market.

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The report is a guide for pub and restaurant operators who are looking to move into new leisure markets.

“Hopefully these figures will act as a spur to other businesses out there which are looking to relocate or expand,” said Mr Barlow. “It shows that in Colchester we have the customers to support a healthy eating and drinking economy and there is room for growth.

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“The good news is this comes before Colchester’s town centre undergoes a �500m regeneration which will offer local people and visitors more choice with new cafes, bars and restaurants which are planned to be part of the regeneration of St Botolph’s.”

Nationally, Colchester has the 28th largest eating and drinking economy out of 2,200 town centres surveyed.

Changes in consumer behaviour, the economy, the introduction of the smoking ban and changes in other laws all makes for a highly challenging market, so places have to offer a good mix of leisure experiences and growing population in order for business success, the report says.

Colchester Borough Council’s tourism team has commissioned opinion research for the past eight years with local people as well as visitors to the town. The range of places to eat and drink consistently comes out highly with an average of 82% of respondents saying that they think that the range is good or very good.

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