If the controversial proposals by the developer Alumno for the cultural quarter around Firstsite are thrown out at appeal by the Government Planning Inspector, Colchester Conservatives will be insisting on a community-led approach to any further development on this site. .
Earlier this year, Liberal Democrats and Labour who control the Council, foolishly backed Alumno’s proposals. This would see hundreds of student rooms built in the town centre, against the wishes of both the town centre communities and the University (who want student accommodation on the University campus). Colchester Conservatives are the only political group to have supported local residents by opposing the Alumno scheme.
Conservatives believe that local residents should have the major input in the decision on what developments should happen in their area around Firstsite.
Colchester Borough Council Conservative Group are also deeply concerned over the 250 year contract signed by the Liberal Democrat and Labour Coalition with Alumno. The taxpayer would receive a minuscule £4,000 per year for a development of 336 flats in a prime location of Colchester. This must be the Council's worst deal ever.
Cllr Simon Crow, Conservative Councillor for the town centre and Conservative spokesman on culture, hit out at the lack of consultation with residents on the scheme:
“From the beginning, the local community was told by the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the developers what was being imposed on them around Firstsite, not asked what people actually want. This is extremely valuable space in our historic town centre and key for regenerating the area. Colchester Conservatives prefer to listen to what the local community want in the area and deliver it. We also demand an explanations why a contract so disadvantageous to the taxpayer was signed by the council with the developers. It means The Council loses control of the land for 250 years, for a scheme nobody wants, at a give-away price to the developer. This does not sit well with Town Centre residents.
Conservatives pledge that it is time for a new, community-led approach to decision-making in Colchester.”