A RESIDENTS’ group has warned the proposed redevelopment of Colchester’s so-called Cultural Quarter would be an “unmitigated disaster” for the town.

Greyfriars Court Property has written to Colchester Council’s planning department on behalf of the residents of Greyfriars Court, a group of properties off Castle Road, warning the existing plans could mean an influx of drug dealers, a rise in anti-social behaviour and the collapse of the surrounding infrastructure.

Developer Alumno is proposing to build 336 student rooms, an 87-bed Travelodge hotel, retail units and some public open areas at the site of the old bus station, just a stone’s throw from the residents’ homes.

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The letter reads: “The thought of any number of student units within the proposed complex is inappropriate and if 300 plus were to be constructed then this would be an unmitigated disaster for the area and one which could never be rectified in a lifetime.

“One could comment on the design of the proposed buildings but whatever the design, it is clear culture and student accommodation is not a compatible mix and should be avoided at all costs.”

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The letter claims residents are concerned about late night and early morning noise, increased drug dealing and the further denigration of the area surrounding Firstsite.

It states: “While we are sure these matters will be address at planning application stage, councillors should be aware these aspects, whilst appearing superficial, will have a significant and detrimental effect on the lives of not only the residents of Greyfriars Court but all those other residencies in the immediate area.

“With another set of criteria, there will be a similar intrusion and reduced attractiveness for other occupied or vacant retail units within the catchment area.”

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Greyfriars Court Property also warns the provision of a budget hotel did not suit the council’s aims of creating a Cultural Quarter.

It adds: “The provision of a low-cost, budget hotel of this magnitude, also seems to be out of sync with the council’s intention to breathe life into the rundown area, and, whilst commendable, surely such a provision of cheap accommodation will not attract the desired level of clientele to support the cultural and business theme.”

The planning application is set to be considered by Colchester Council in the coming months.