This is a sad day for Colchester. The members of tonight’s committee have decided that the people of Colchester are not worth listening to. Instead they have stuck by the corporates who are only interested in increasing their portfolios. One of these out-of-Colchester companies has just sold its investment in the town centre, Lion Walk Shopping Centre, for a sizeable profit; proving Colchester Council’s predictions of a lack of confidence caused by the application, completely wrong. However, we are delighted that Colchester town centre is thriving.
We would like to thank those visionary councillors who did support Tollgate Village and who clearly have the Borough’s future in mind. We also thank those members of the public who have given such overwhelming support to this project.
We feel extremely disappointed for the people of our town who have shown tremendous support in our vision. We feel that the town is now worse off and will face even fiercer competition from neighbouring towns which seem to always be several steps ahead of us.
By refusing this planning application to build Tollgate Village to complement the town centre, Colchester will now continue to lose out to our neighbours, Chelmsford, Ipswich and Braintree. The Planning Committee have ultimately rejected £16.9million GVA coming into the Borough, along with the prospect of 1,000 jobs.
It is not surprising that the councillors have voted in this way, given the circumstances in which the committee has been engineered and swayed by the Officers and the fierce lobbying from CBC itself and the large corporate organisations that own the majority of our town centre; both have played a dangerous game in the setting back the future growth of our town.
The planning councillors have been fed misleading information without any evidence and they have accepted it. We hope that when it comes to re-election in their respective wards that the public remember which members listened to them and supported what the public wanted, and who didn’t.
Moving forward, we will be considering our next steps very carefully and the decision to appeal, go back to the drawing board or simply stick with the status quo has yet to be decided. We will also be watching closely at how CBC consider the application for Northern Gateway on its own land, the Borough’s number one employment site, that currently can not deliver the proposals (such as a cinema) that have been suggested . We are sure they will be as impartial as they have been with the Tollgate Village application.