COLCHESTER Council will fight Alumno’s bid to overturn its decision to reject controversial plans for the town’s so-called Cultural Quarter.

The council’s planning committee rejected the proposals for 336-student rooms, an 87-bed Travelodge hotel, retail units and public open space to be created off Queen Street despite officers recommending the bid for approval.

However, last month the development giant announced its intention to appeal against the unanimous decision for the plans for land off Queen Street.

READ MORE: Alumno to appeal decision to reject its Cultural Quarter plans

Nick Chilvers, a former retail manager and objector to the scheme, called for the cabinet to nail its colours to the mast at a meeting on Wednesday.

He said: “Will Colchester Council fund and appoint a lawyer to argue on behalf of the committee?

“Or will the newly constituted, non-professional committee, have to pit themselves against Alumno’s counsel and the avalanche of stuff they’ll throw at the inspector to shore up their case?

“Will you be fighting in support of the unanimous committee decision and the 559 objectors or cave in to Alumno, officers and the 25 supporters? Tricky, because cabinet wanted this scheme to go ahead.

“Which side of the fence are you now sitting on? Interested parties will want to know.”

Leader of the council Mark Cory confirmed the authority would contest the appeal, which is set to take place in the form of a six day planning inquiry opening in October.

He said: “Our planning committee made the decision and we will be backing them on it, that is what our organisation does.”

READ MORE: Planning committee unanimously rejects Cultural Quarter plans

Ian Vipond, strategic director of policy and place, confirmed a team of experts was being brought together to fight the appeal.

“I am sure you will understand the team is unlikely to compose of the case officers involved in the case because they recommended the application for approval,” he said.

Dorian Kelly, who helped spearhead the non-political campaign against the plans, welcomed the news.

He said: “It is very much good news and I think they have decided to go the right way by hiring external consultants. We have offered to work closely with the council in order to create a united front. I believe we stand a good chance of winning.”

READ MORE: Alumno speaks out after St Botolph's plans are rejected

The appeal will be heard by planning inspector Melvyn Middleton from October 16. A venue will be announced in due course.