Tollgate Village retail park to go ahead near Colchester after appeal
PUBLISHED: 12:06 04 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:07 04 August 2017
Plans to build a new retail park at Tollgate Village on the edge of Colchester are back on today after the Local Government Secretary overturned Colchester Council’s decision to refuse planning permission.
The developers of the proposed park, Tollgate Partnership Ltd, appealed to the government after the borough turned down the application, fearing it would damage the economic viability of the town centre.
The application was for a centre with retail and leisure uses – including a new cinema.
It was refused planning permission because of fears it would attract business away from the town centre and damage its viability – however the developers lodged an appeal which heard evidence at the start of the year.
The inspector said the town centre was relatively healthy and he did not think the new Tollgate Village centre would impact on that.
He did not think the new development would cause major traffic problems in the area.
Secretary of State Sajid Javid, who makes the final decision, agreed with his analysis and granted the appeal – formally granting planning permission for the scheme.
Jayne Gee and Daniel Watts of Tollgate Partnership Limited said: “We are delighted and relieved that, after many years of hard work, we can bring Tollgate Village to Colchester.”
“This is a good day for our town and we want to thank the huge number of people who have supported us; it means the world.”
“We hope the next phase of the planning process will proceed quickly and efficiently in order for us to deliver Tollgate Village.”
Colchester Borough Council warned that the decision could affect town centre stores.
A spokeswoman said: “The Council is extremely disappointed with the Secretary of State’s decision. By allowing this major retail proposal outside the town centre he is undermining the whole local plan process and threatening local democracy.
“The Council was supported in its approach by town centre retailers, including Fenwick’s, which has invested more than £30m in its new store.
“Since the appeal, we have seen a number of town centre stores close, citing the threat of Tollgate Village as a deciding factor. Our concern now is that this decision will precipitate economic stagnation in the town centre which could see shops and restaurants lose trade, begin to close or move out of the town centre altogether.
“Colchester is fortunate to have a significant number of small and independent retailers, but it’s hard to see how they will survive if some of the larger stores move out of the town centre. This will be bad news for residents and businesses alike.
“We are also concerned that the decision will have a significant impact on residents in Stanway, who are likely to experience a huge increase in traffic and congestion in the area, as a result of the 3.5million additional car trips this proposal will generate each year.”
Local MP Priti Patel, Stanway’s county councillor Kevin Bentley and borough councillors Jackie MacLean and Fiona MacLean have all welcomed the decision.
Ms Patel said: “This is fantastic news for Stanway and this part of Essex. Hundreds of new jobs are now set to be created and we will get to benefit from new facilities and investment in Stanway.
“I have supported the Tollgate Partnership throughout this process and congratulate them on securing planning permission. They have faced a protracted and difficult process by Colchester Borough Council who have delayed this scheme and the economic benefits it will bring.”
Mr Bentley said: “I am thrilled and delighted by this decision. I have always maintained that Tollgate Village would be a tremendous boost to our economy. With our borough growing we need developments that gives our residents the right facilities in the right places and Tollgate Village provides this.”
Jackie MacLean said: “I have been supportive of the Tollgate Village proposals and this decision is good news for Stanway. Independent decision makers have now approved both Stane Park and Tollgate Village. Throughout this process we have seen double-standards from the council and they should be ashamed of their time-wasting ploys.”
Ms Patel added: “Colchester Borough Council have behaved disgracefully throughout this process. They have tried to block this development and now it has been passed the council’s senior leadership must now consider their positions.”
Colchester MP Will Quince said that while he understood the concerns of some town centre retailers, he felt it was important for them to talk to the Tollgate Partnership to work together for the good of the town.
He said: “Now the decision has been made we need everyone to work together to attract people to the town. I have constituents who use the town centre – but sometimes want to go to retail parks or would like to use the cinema there.”