Work could start on landmark conversion

By Roddy AshworthWORK to transform one of Colchester's best-loved landmarks into a luxury penthouse building could start towards the end of the year.

By Roddy Ashworth

WORK to transform one of Colchester's best-loved landmarks into a luxury penthouse building could start towards the end of the year.

Jumbo, the Victorian water tower that dominates the town's skyline, has been empty since 1995.

But in 2001 a council decision to block a plan for the building to be converted into a home was overturned by a Government planning inspector and the scheme to revamp the imposing structure was given the go-ahead.


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Brian Light, who opposed the decision to allow Jumbo's transformation into a five-bedroom home, said he had now been told work on the conversion was to begin within six months.

"The plan, as we understand, it is to start at the end of this year. It looks like it will take 15 months for the work to be completed," said Mr Light, from pressure group Save Jumbo for Colchester.

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"That means there will be public access in 2005. There will be access up a spiral staircase to a small exhibition area and blue badge guides. Although the tank will be changed and there will be garaging at the base, it will still be Jumbo."

Mr Light said the building had also been given a specially-enhanced listing status. Instead of having an ordinary grade II listing, its categorisation has now been upgraded by English Heritage to grade II*.

That means the building is regarded as being in the top 8% of protected structures in the country, classified as "a particularly important building of more than special interest".

Mr Light said: "The II* status is important. It won't affect the current plans, but it will prevent any further drastic changes to the building.

"For example, if a future owner wanted to put in extra windows, or something similar, he probably wouldn't be able to."

The owner of the water tower, Roy Rawden, refused to comment and Simon Plater, the architect behind the plan for transforming Jumbo, was unavailable for comment.

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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