AN MP has written to the Housing Secretary asking for him to step in and investigate Colchester Council’s handling of a £40 million student flats development.

Colchester MP Will Quince has asked Robert Jenrick to intervene and investigate the council’s handling of Alumno’s development, which will see 336-student flats, a hotel and retail units built on land off Queen Street.

Colchester Council’s Cabinet is set to approve using controversial legal powers to remove residents’ access rights from the Queen Street site this week.

Read more >>> Colchester Council to use legal powers to get £40m scheme moving

Mr Quince said Colchester Council was looking at using these same legal powers to “attempt to override” the restrictive covenant Essex County Council holds over part of the site.

County Hall has revealed it is taking legal advice over the covenant as it believes Colchester Council should have offered them the chance to buy the land before a long-term lease was signed with Alumno just before a planning committee meeting in 2019.

Read more >>> Essex County Council and Colchester Council in legal row

Mr Quince said: “Due to the overwhelming opposition to the plans and the belief the site represents a great opportunity for a scheme which would bring huge benefit to Colchester, Essex County Council has maintained the covenant they hold over the land will not be lifted.

“Moreover, the leader of the council, David Finch, informs me Colchester Council may have had legal obligation to offer the sale of the land in question to them before disposing of it.

“Cllr Finch continued by stating he has little other choice but to instruct counsel on this matter to gain further legal clarity.I am sure you will agree this enabling legislation was never designed for a local authority to try and override a restrictive covenant held by another local authority especially when it is designed to protect residents.”

“I would therefore be grateful if your Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government officials would look into this matter and consider launching an investigation.”