New centre 'would boost tourism'

A BUSINESSMAN has claimed Colchester does not have enough in it to encourage people to have a one-night stay.Stephen Bunting, partner of Bunting and Sons, claims his planned Horkesley Park Heritage Centre will fill the gap he feels exists in the town and give northern European visitors - entering the region via Harwich - a good reason to stay in the town.

A BUSINESSMAN has claimed Colchester does not have enough in it to encourage people to have a one-night stay.

Stephen Bunting, partner of Bunting and Sons, claims his planned Horkesley Park Heritage Centre will fill the gap he feels exists in the town and give northern European visitors - entering the region via Harwich - a good reason to stay in the town.

Bunting and Sons hopes Colchester Borough Council will approve of its controversial plans to turn the 120-acre Horkesley Park in Great Horkesley into a major tourist attraction.

It would include restaurants, a garden centre, ornamental gardens, a Suffolk Punch breeding centre and an exhibition centre dedicated to the life of John Constable.

Earlier this week, the Stour Valley Action Group, at a meeting it hosted for more than 200 people from Great Horkesley and beyond, claimed the heritage centre plan would increase traffic and disturbance, draw in foreign workers and might, one day, pave the way for a casino or nightclub in the area.

But Bunting and Sons partner Stephen Bunting described the casino suggestion as “simply absurd” and said 80% of all of his employees were British and 10% were from Australia. He added he was concerned about the number of people who attended the Stour Valley Action Group meeting because, he claimed, many of those attending simply wanted to know more about his project rather than being against it.

Most Read

He said his Horkesley Park Heritage Centre would encourage northern European visitors coming in through Harwich to stay in the area and spend their money.

He said: “One of the things about Colchester is there's not enough to hold people here. If you are honest about it, it doesn't have enough in it to encourage people to have a one night stay. We see it as working with Colchester to promote tourism. How many people come to Colchester and talk about spending £20 million?”

Kevin Bentley, Colchester Borough Council's tourism portfolio holder for tourism, declined to comment on Mr Bunting's statement because his business is handling the publicity for the Horkesley Park Heritage Centre.

Deputy leader of the council Robert Davidson rebutted Mr Bunting's suggestions adding: “Colchester is well recognised as a tourist town with its museums and other visitor attractions. The reason the retail spend in Colchester is double that of Chelmsford or half again that of Ipswich is because of the variety of attractions on offer to tourists.

“However, any commercial venture that raises Colchester's profile and encourages people to extend there stay here is, if it is given planning permission on its own merits, welcomed.”

The plans for the Horkesley Park Heritage Centre are available from Colchester Borough Council's planning department.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter