Town revamp plans revealed

DETAILS of key proposals contained in a massive urban regeneration project in an Essex town have been unveiled.Draft plans from a development firm would provide Colchester with a modern bus station and new shops and residential apartments on the site between St Botolph's Street, Southway and Vineyard Street.

DETAILS of key proposals contained in a massive urban regeneration project in an Essex town have been unveiled.

Draft plans from a development firm would provide Colchester with a modern bus station and new shops and residential apartments on the site between St Botolph's Street, Southway and Vineyard Street. 

A new public space next to the town wall would be a feature of the scheme and would allow people to appreciate the Roman monument in a more attractive environment.

A Colchester Borough Council spokeswoman said the initial proposal for the Vineyard Gate development would offer a number of transport and retail advantages for residents:


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n It would create a much-needed boost to shopping in Colchester, providing a new department store and many new shops to cater for the town's growing population.

n Unlike the current bus station, situated at the top of Queen Street next to the Minories Art Gallery, the proposed location for the new facility – on a new road running parallel to Osborne Street - is on the town centre bus circuit.

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n Pedestrian routes to and from the bus station would be far easier and safer due to its location within the new development. The new bus station will feature a range of escalators and lifts to cater for the changes of levels, and access to the scheme and town centre would be easier.

n A proposed new pedestrian bridge across Southway would improve links to the town centre and bus station, which would be of particular benefit to the new community of around 2,600 houses soon to be built on the former garrison land.

n The proposal would also include enhancements to the existing multi-storey car park, and being close to the town centre rail station would provide enhanced access to the town centre for rail users.

Robert Davidson, Colchester Borough Council's portfolio holder for regeneration and partnerships, said: “We are delighted to be able to share with local people the early proposals from Vineyard Gate Developments for the new bus station and the retail development. 

“We have always said that when we believed there was a workable solution on the table we would share it as soon as possible, and this is what we are doing.

“We also made a commitment that out of the regeneration of St Botolph's Quarter we would provide Colchester with a state-of-the-art bus facility which would be a big improvement on what we have at the moment - this Vineyard Gate scheme provides the opportunity to do just that. 

“With this proposal the new bus station would be within 5 minutes walk of 88% of the shops in Colchester town centre, far in excess of the figure for the current bus station. 

“It would also incorporate escalators and lifts to ease access and, unlike the current bus station, would be a facility that the people of Colchester could be proud of, and all this without any impact on council tax.

“We are also acutely aware of the challenges this proposal would present for some local traders  - we will do our utmost to support them through any period of transition. 

“These opportunities come along only once in a lifetime. The judgement call we have to make is whether this opportunity is one to be seized for the benefit of the borough - we believe that it is.”

It is also claimed the scheme could be put into action at no cost to council taxpayers.

A good deal of work would still need to be done on this proposed scheme for Vineyard Gate before it would be ready to be submitted for planning permission, including highways issues to be resolved with Essex County Council.

However, the initial concept was released at this stage so that local people could get an idea of what is being planned for this part of the town.

If the St Botolph's Quarter Masterplan is adopted by the council in February, over the following months Vineyard Gate Developments will reveal full details of the proposals and will be inviting members of the public to find out more about the plans through a public exhibition in the town centre.

Members of the public can find more details about the Vineyard Gate proposals on the Colchester Regeneration website www.colchester-regen.co.uk.

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