Work on Jumbo set to begin

THE beginning of controversial building work to transform one of Colchester's most famous landmarks into a luxury residence is finally in sight, the EADT can reveal.

By Roddy Ashworth

THE beginning of controversial building work to transform one of Colchester's most famous landmarks into a luxury residence is finally in sight, the EADT can reveal.

Plans to revamp Jumbo, the town's imposing water tower, have been on the table since 1995 and after a number of refusals, withdrawals, amendments and ultimately a full blown planning inquiry, were eventually given the green light in 2001.

But further wrangling with the council about the transfer of a small patch of land next to the structure - which comprised six parking spaces - delayed the beginning of work, with an agreement to sell the adjacent plot only coming last year.


You may also want to watch:


Yesterday it was confirmed by David Whybrow, the council's planning team manager, that the deal has gone through and the land had been passed on to the developer.

Now Colchester Borough Council has received two planning applications to erect temporary construction hoardings on the Grade II* listed building, signalling the beginning of structural work.

Most Read

The ambitious scheme will see the huge tank at the top of the 131ft water tower removed and replaced with glass, creating a deluxe penthouse.

However, developers have been ordered not to destroy the cast-iron frontage on the most visible side of the tank which faces down Colchester High Street.

As a concession to the town, the top of the building will also be accessible to the public to provide a tourist attraction boasting panoramic views across the borough.

Yesterday Simon Plater, of Tollesbury-based Plater Claibourne Architecture and Design, confirmed that the "beginning of the beginning" of the work to transform Jumbo had finally come.

"The problem over the land has been solved and our clients have now purchased it. That is why everything has taken so long - we have had to go quite slowly," he explained.

"All I can say is that at the moment things are beginning to move. We have not appointed a contractor quite yet but we are heading in that direction.

"The work is likely to take a year at least but I cannot be more precise than that. This is a significant project and it will not be completed overnight."

Mr Plater added he did not think major building work would begin this year but was more likely to start in 2005.

Yesterday Lloyd Whellams, co-founder of pressure group Save Jumbo for Colchester, said: "It's a shame for the town. It is very sad. However, we tried to stop this and we couldn't - obviously they are very determined.

"The water tank on the top of Jumbo is the reason it was built in the first place. In two years people will instead see a strange glow over the town, like a Chinese lantern.

"This is one of Colchester's most prominent landmarks and these changes will be irreversible. It's not like having a few bits built on. It will never again be Jumbo as we know it."

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