Ten reasons why Colchester should be a city

As part of the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Colchester is applying for city status. Here are some reasons why Colchester should be a city.

1. History

Colchester is Britain’s first Roman city, with a 2000 year heritage. Pliny the Elder immortalised Camulodunum, Roman Colchester, as Britain’s first recorded settlement and later Britain’s first city and capital.

2. Fast growing town

Colchester is one of the UK’s fastest-growing towns. It is one of the most important and diverse urban centres in the East of England, located midway between the largest UK container port and London’s third airport. A place that provides work for around 23,000 people who travel into Colchester from the surrounding area and which is home to more than 13,000 students from more than 130 countries who are studying at the University of Essex's Colchester campus, making it the UK’s most international campus university.

3. Digital connectivity

Over 75km of new gigabit fibre broadband networks have been delivered across the town and city. A direct connection to the UK’s main internet exchange at Telehouse in London is providing the basis for future investment in 5G, wireless and smart city technologies and enabling residents and businesses to realise their potential.

4. Inward investment hotspot

Recent years have seen an estimated £634m of investment that has transformed the town, including new hotels, visitor attractions, new spaces for businesses, improved retail, new sport and leisure facilities, rapid expansion of the University of Essex, cutting edge connectivity and town centre regeneration.

5. Strong royal and military links throughout history

From Saxon royal councils; the Normans building their largest castle keep on top of the Emperor Claudius’ Temple; Royal confirmation of Colchesters’ Oyster Fishery; and as one of only two Royal Saluting Station towns in mainland Britain, Colchester’s royal connections are historic, diverse and contemporary. Colchester first became a garrison 2000 years ago, and today its military tradition is an essential part of its outlook and character. A modern Garrison Town for the past 165 years, Colchester has, for the past 21 years, been home to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the UK’s rapid response force, which in August 2021 saw 750 soldiers from Colchester deployed to Kabul to help with the evacuation.

6. Regional creative and cultural destination

Colchester’s range of nationally important museums and galleries makes it a hub for world-class arts and cultural activity including Firstsite, Arts Fund National Museum of the Year 2021. All this set in the context of two millennia of architecture including the UK's only Roman Circus. Colchester has a 2000 year theatre tradition. The remains of two Roman theatres complement five contemporary venues. From the highly regarded producing Mercury Theatre to the national influence of Colchester Arts Centre. Colchester is also proud of its six museums including the nationally Designated collection in Colchester Castle Museum to the largest collection of the work of Sir Alfred Munnings in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

7. Partnership work

Colchester has a long history of accepting and celebrating people’s differences and many community organisations foster a deep-seated belief that everyone, whatever their abilities, culture and ethnicity or sexual orientation, should have the same life chances and be treated with dignity and respect. One Colchester, a partnership of public and voluntary services provides the glue that enables this partnership to thrive, and enabled Colchester residents to get rapid support throughout the Covid pandemic. As part of the North East Essex Health Alliance, Colchester is transforming community health and wellbeing services through partnership.

8. Internationally important and relevant

Colchester’s location, thriving community and accessibility from Europe have ensured it has retained an international outlook for two millennia – whether through war, trade, religion, education or cultural exchange. Colchester is home to the University of Essex, one of the UK’s most international Universities, with students from more than 130 countries and partnerships with over 300 international institutions.

9. Environmentally pioneering

Colchester City Council was one of the first in the UK to declare a climate emergency, acknowledging urgent action is needed to limit the environmental, social and ecnomic impacts of climate change and to committing to net zero Carbon emissions by 2030. Colchester is home to nationally and internationally important habitats including the Colne Estuary Marine Area of Special Conservation which has provided the perfect breeding ground for the native Colchester Oyster since pre-Roman times.

10. Place of opportunity

Colchester’s bid for city status isn’t simply about recognition of its history or achievements. We’ll always remain proud of our past, our traditions and our place in the world. But pride in our past and our position is only part of what it means to be a city. What marks out a place is the outlook of its people – an outlook that’s characterised by tolerance, openness to change, ambition, international orientation, aspiration and confidence in the future, underpinned by drive to make it happen. Colcestrians deserve to have the honour of city status bestowed upon them. City status will be the connection between development of the place and the aspirations of its people. It will be the catalyst for new thinking about vision for place which will enable us to realise the very real potential that Colchester has and is outlined in the full bid.

Page last reviewed: 4 October 2021


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