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Colchester’s new wayfinding elephant to improve walking route from train to town

Constructed using 26 individually-designed pieces, walkers will be rewarded as they walk towards the Town Centre

Date issued: 19 December 2018 

A steel elephant could become the eye-catching centrepiece for the next phase of a project to transform the walking route from Colchester Railway Station to Colchester Town Centre – should planners approve the scheme.

Installation of the innovative wayfinding sculpture on the Albert roundabout, on Cowdray Avenue, along with sympathetic new lighting, landscaping and improved CCTV, would mark the second phase of the Fixing the Link initiative.

This ambitious project aims to create a positive first impression of Colchester to rail users and encourage them, along with residents and shoppers, to enjoy an improved walking route along North Station Road and Middleborough into the town centre via North Hill.

Designers, Dallas-Pierce-Quintero, conceived the steel structure to represent an elephant – the motif for the ‘Fixing the Link’ project – inspired by tales of Emperor Claudius’s dramatic arrival into Colchester with a herd of elephants to celebrate the victory of the Roman invasion in 43 AD.

Constructed using 26 individually-designed pieces, walkers will be rewarded as they walk towards the Town Centre by seeing the pieces merge to form the shape of an elephant.

Councillor Martin Goss, Colchester Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Waste, Sustainability and Infrastructure, said: “In ‘Fixing the Link’ between Colchester Railway Station and the Town Centre, we can make it easier for people to find their way from the station and enjoy a more welcoming, interesting and attractive route which is less than one mile. This exciting proposal not only showcases exceptional design talent, but it creates a new cultural landmark for what is an important gateway to our town.

“We know that visitors who arrive by train tend to stay longer if they have a positive experience of reaching the town centre, and we want to encourage as many people as possible to visit by train and make the most of our fantastic shops, restaurants, markets, cafés and bars, as well as the array of outstanding music and arts events.”

The ‘Fixing the Link’ project is being delivered by Colchester Borough Council, Essex County Council and Greater Anglia, who are jointly funding the elephant wayfinding artwork, lighting and planting scheme estimated to cost around £200,000 including engineering and design.

To date, the project has seen: installation of a cast bronze 3D model showing the original Roman walls and gateways at Middleborough; corten steel wayfinding elephants at the Railway Station and High Street; yellow banners to highlight the route and show walking times; bronze plaques to highlight historical facts along the way, and new seating and public realm improvements at Middleborough.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “We are pleased to work in partnership with Greater Anglia and Colchester Borough Council during the development and delivery of this flagship scheme.”

Paul Wilkinson, Greater Anglia Integrated Transport Manager, said: "The Fixing the Link project is helping passengers find their way on foot to and from Colchester station as well as improving the environment for the local community. We are very pleased to be involved with the second phase of this innovative project."

Jonathan Dallas, Project Designer, Dallas-Pierce-Quintero, said: “Our brief was to put forward a striking wayfinding sculpture to make the walking route easier to navigate. We believe the proposal will not only create a positive talking point for the town and provide a point of interest on the route to the town centre, but it will also add to Colchester’s spirit of contemporary culture."

If planning permission for the public sculpture is given, work will begin on its installation in spring 2019.

To find out more about the project and to see how it has developed, visit the ‘Fixing the Link’ website www.colchester.gov.uk/fixingthelink

To view the full planning application visit www.colchester.gov.uk/planning and search for planning application number 183085

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