The inquiry has opened into proposals for a new “cultural quarter” at the heart of the Colchester town centre conservation area. Colchester is the UK’s oldest recorded town. The conservation area boasts an exceptional concentration of heritage assets including Grade I and II* listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments such as the Roman town walls and the 12th century St Botolph’s Priory.
Alumno Student (Essex) Ltd were refused planning permission by Colchester Borough Council for demolition of existing buildings/structures and redevelopment to provide purpose-built student accommodation; hotel; commercial space (Use Classes A1, A3, A4, B1(c) and D2); artist studios; and associated vehicular access and public realm improvements.
The main reason for refusal relates to impact on the conservation area as a result of a failure to achieve the required high standard of design in accordance with the principles in the Council’s adopted St Botolph’s Quarter Master Plan, which reinforces the need for high quality design and the protection of the town’s historic townscape.
The Council’s case is supported by many interested parties.
OMC Investments Ltd, a substantial property investment company with a strong track record in development and regeneration in areas of high heritage value both in Colchester and around the country, has been granted Rule 6 status in the appeal in the light of its concern to see St Botolph’s Quarter successfully regenerated in a manner commensurate with its exceptionally high value conservation status and as a complement to their own heritage regeneration schemes, including the Grade II* listed Grey Friars Hotel and the Grade I listed East Hill House.
The inquiry is scheduled to sit for 7 days.
Meyric Lewis is representing OMC Investments Ltd, instructed by John Lawson of the Lawson Planning Partnership. John’s colleague Kathryn Oelman is providing the planning evidence and Peter Buist of Purcell Architecture Ltd is covering the issues of townscape and architectural design.