New homes and open space for former Army site?

A model of the giant Chariot Racing Circus which lies buried under the old garrison area of Colchest

A model of the giant Chariot Racing Circus which lies buried under the old garrison area of Colchester. - Credit: Archant

A former Army site could be turned into housing and open space amid plans for a major revamp.

The 4.26-hectare former Colchester Garrison site, near Walshingham Road and Circular Road North, is owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Colchester Borough Council is exploring the option of turning it into housing and green space as part of its emerging Local Plan. 

It thinks the site could take somewhere between 171 to 304 new homes, with a mixture of family homes and those suitable for disabled people being mooted.

The council also wants any new development to be environmentally friendly, with electric charging points for cars and good pedestrian and cycling facilities.

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A report ahead of the authority's planning committee meeting on the issue this evening said: "Development needs to have design integrity that complements and reinforces the best elements of the Colchester’s built and natural environment to provide a distinctive development that contributes positively towards local character."

The site was previously part of the Royal Artillery Barracks, latterly known as Le Cateau Barracks. 

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The Roman Circus Scheduled Ancient Monument, Britain's only known Roman chariot-racing track, has already been cited as 0.46 hectares of open space. 

It was previously recommended that the Roman Circus should have a buffer zone of 10 metres, made up of grass, with no trees planted nearby. 

The Grade II-listed Officers’ Quarters at the garrison were recently converted into housing, with a garden space retained. 

Following a public consultation, the Garrison Conservation Area was extended in June 2021 to include the former Army Base Repair Organisation.

And before any planning application is made a geophysical survey and a heritage assessment will all need to be carried out. 

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